- Jamison Terry
Black Voices: #Living while Black
#LivingWhileBlack is not simply a hashtag. The hashtag is a wake up call to the world about harsh realities of being black in such an anti-black climate. It highlights the quotidian disturbing experiences black people encounter for merely existing. The majority of the cases surface if people call the police on black people for nonexistent transgressions. There are many aspects of #LivingWhileBlack, but I will focus on the incessant policing of blackness.
People calling the police on Black people, based on false accusations, is a form of attacking black people’s existence, and it is a MAJOR issue. For example, in June of this year, a white woman called the police on an 8-year-old black girl for “illegally selling water without a permit.” Although Black Twitter hilariously ridiculed this woman for attacking a child- by dubbing her “Permit Patty”- it is important to remember that she called the police on an innocent CHILD (racial profiling certainly does not have any age restrictions). This woman represents some Americans’ obsession with controlling black bodies and their criminalization/dehumanization of black people (including children).
The act of calling the police has evolved from a response to emergencies to pesticide against blackness. The reason why it is important to document these instances is because far too many times there have been unjustified, violent attacks from this nation’s police force against black people. #LivingWhileBlack virtually exhibits how people still see the simple act of being black and free as a threat. The unjustified attacks are not isolated incidents but pieces of the American Black experience. Next year signifies half a millennium of black people living in America which is more than twice the age of the United States, yet we, as a community, are still denied basic human rights such as being permitted existence without suspicion or profiling. Racism has controlled black bodies for far too long, from the existence of black people to chattel slavery to the prison system. Activism through the digital sphere has helped black people reclaim their rights and overall freedom. This hashtag and others like it have become safe spaces of freedom for peoples’ blackness and defiance of oppressive powers. The hashtag and statements under it are a rejection of the narrative of black people as inferior or unworthy as part of humanity, and they create and affirm a new norm of blackness: freely and happily existing in the world.