For any of you who hold dear a fictional remedy for black oppression— such as “working hard” or “playing by the rules” — here is a small, non-exhaustive list of things that won’t save you from being black.
1. Being a veteran police officer and a good samaritan at the scene of a car crash
Police Veteran Christopher Owens witnessed a car crash and rushed over to aid the victim. When the perpetrator of the crash tried to leave the scene, Owens tackled him. But when officers arrived, they beat and arrested Owens.
2. Being the son of said veteran police officer
Christopher Owen’s son was also at the scene — he was beaten and arrested after his father.
3. Being a City Council member
Jonathan Miller, city council member, just finished practicing a step routine with his fraternity brothers in front of his own house when police arrived to question the men about drug activity. Police say Miller was interfering with the investigation and tased him as he kneeled on the ground.
4. Being a tennis player
Harvard-educated retired top-ranking tennis pro James Blake was jumped by a police officer and handcuffed by several more outside his hotel. He was mistaken for a suspect who committed credit card fraud.
5. Being a student at Yale University
6. Being a banker with a BMW
After getting pulled over at a red light for not having her hands on the wheel of her BMW, Banker Kamilah Brock was detained for several hours. She was released without any charges, but when she tried to pick up her vehicle the next day, officers didn’t believe she was the owner. She was admitted into a psychiatric ward for eight days, against her will, where she was “forced to take lithium and injected with heavy sedatives.” Hospital staff tried to force her to admit she was neither a banker nor the owner of the vehicle.
7. Being a homeowner
Ikenna Njoku was accused of forgery. A Chase bank teller believed Njoku’s cashier’s check (issued by Chase Bank) and his claim of homeownership were fraudulent. Njoku was jailed for four days. While incarcerated, his car was impounded and then auctioned. He also lost his job.
8. Being educated
9. Being law-abiding
Black men with no criminal record are as likely to be called for a second interview at low-level jobs as white men just out of prison for felony convictions.
10. Being employed
Earl Sampson was arrested for trespassing 62 times over four years. Nearly all of these arrests took place at his own job.
11. Being in the middle class
Black middle-class children are more likely than their white counterparts to be poor as adults. African Americans “have experienced substantially less upward intergenerational mobility and substantially more downward intergenerational mobility than whites.”
You would be a fool not to know by now — you can do everything “right” and still be all “wrong” (i.e. black).