If you have not been in tune to recent news, the new hashtag #WhileBlack refers to multiple incidents of Blacks having the police called on them while going about their everyday lives. So far #WhileBlack it has been deemed criminal (the police were called) to sit in Starbucks, try on a dress, check out of an Airbnb, take your sister to eat at Waffle House after prom, request additional to go silverware at Waffle House, take a break while golfing, fall asleep in your dorm while studying, inspect a property you have a contract to purchase and the list goes on and on.
All Black Americans know this is not a new phenomenon, but now it is trending. It’s great that everyone is talking and sharing, but talk is cheap. We will refer to @LeslieMac via Twitter, who makes a very important point. “I really think we are doing a disservice by labeling all these #WhileBlack incidents as ‘white people calling the cops for no reason.’ [They] are calling the police for the same reason the police were created: to make themselves feel safe and to control Black people they feel do not know their place.” She continues to tweet, “White people learn almost at birth that the police are FOR THEM…So they KNOW quite well what will happen…That when called they WILL ALWAYS be believed and always be supported.”
Looking at these incidents, it’s hard to refute her claims. Now that’s established, though Black folk did not need the recap, what we need is a resolution, A CALL TO ACTION. We need the Who, What, When, Where, and How game plan to change the narrative of Black folk in America.
Let’s start with what can be argued to be the most powerful social influencer and cultural mind shaper, the media. The Washington Post released an article about news media’s portrayal of Black families. “If all you knew about black families was what national news outlets reported, you are likely to think African Americans are overwhelmingly poor, reliant on welfare, absentee fathers and criminals, despite what government data show, a new study says.”
Next are the people whose very livelihoods depend on us, elected officials and business corporations—from the city council to state and federal governments and major corporations. We must put the onus on them to represent their constituents, including those of us who vote #WhileBlack and to respect our buying power.
Change society’s narrative of the Black person. “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” said American philosopher and motivational speaker, Wayne Dyer. When Black Americans do contribute positively to society it is underrepresented, if not completely ignored. We are talking about the three Black teen finalists in the NASA competition. It should not take Hidden Figures to be aware of our contributions. Changing this narrative also requires training among our policing bodies. You cannot successfully police a community when you don’t understand the cultural aspects and history that have shaped it.
That is the easiest question to answer. Now. Do not wait. Start today. Get your friends, family, religious leaders involved. Talk about it. Do it.
This will possibly take you out of your comfort zone. Take it to their face or ear or eyes. Pick up your phonebook, we mean open your internet search bar, and look for the contact information for your local Television News Director, Radio Program Director, Newspaper Editor, City Council, State Legislator, and do not forget your judicial system. Sheriffs and District Attorneys are elected positions. Call them. Write them. VISIT them. Corporations usually have a complaint line. Reach out there. Do it and do it until they get tired of hearing from you or present a better representation of Black Americans.
Hit them where it hurts. Money. Every aspect of our culture requires the acquisition or transfer of money or a service of monetary value. Media runs on advertising revenue, which comes from businesses both large and small. Elected officials require money to run campaigns. Pay attention to who supports whom and address them accordingly.