It’s not hard to get caught in the crossfire of the heated racial debate that has our country engulfed in moral flame. All throughout social media, throughout the internet and even in the streets of your neighborhood you’ll be reminded that we don’t exactly live in the golden age of racial equity, and in fact, evidence suggests that racial disparity is systemic and could even begin as early as grade school.
Being Black, I have to wonder and I have to question, for my own sanity and for my own security, about what is really going on in the depths of this racial chasm that is affecting our society. Recently, Twitter went ablaze with the hashtags #CrimingWhileWhite and #AliveWhileBlack. The former is a gaze into the often forgiving and understanding world of law enforcement and white privilege. You search #CrimingWhileWhite and you’ll read the accounts of a myriad of Twitter users
who’ve experienced incredible amounts of leeway from law enforcement after being caught red handed commiting crimes. Some of them were even assisted by cops and afterwards allowed to go.
The latter, #AliveWhileBlack, is a totally different story. One of racial profiling and of unjust detention, often during what are suppose to be simple, everyday happenings.
I don’t want to get wrapped in the many questions one could ask about what these hashtags reveal. Meaning can be derived from anything and without any research of my own other than my own experience (which could also be considered a bias), I don’t want to fall into the trap (or be accused of) apophenia. My observations and my conclusions, are ripe with patterns in terms of this issue.
What I can say without a doubt is that #CrimingWhileWhite and #AliveWhileBlack have been interesting and realtime looks into the level racial disparity that exists in our country. This racial disparity is not just existing in interactions between law enforcement and civilians. It’s existing in our media, and in our communities on an interpersonal level (See my back and forth with Dave up top). We, as a public, are actively engaging each other in dialogue around issues of racial disparity and it’s interesting to see the extent of our understanding. Can we take this opportunity for healthy dialogue and use it as a catalyst for understanding? My challenge to Dave and my challenge to any of us engaging in the countless strings of dialogue born of the two hashtags is to address not only the “they” in the situation but address ourselves. To enter dialogue expecting that our perspectives might just be change. And most of all be willing to see that this is where change and growth will occur.