#AliveWhileBlack Is Essential Reading If You Give A Crap About Police Brutality

Yesterday, a grand jury decided not to indict Staten Island NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of Eric Garner, despite the fact that the death was ruled a homicide and the entire incident was caught on tape. (His final words: “I can’t breathe,” gasped over and over.) The outrage over this injustice was immediate and palpable, as people took to the streets to protest yet another white police officer killing an unarmed Black citizen without legal recourse. Meanwhile, on Twitter, the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite began trending, as white people primarily started sharing stories about getting away with illegal acts that, presumably, POC of color would not only not get away with, but potentially face terrible repercussions for. In other words, white people were tweeting examples of their own white privilege — and while I am always in favor of people recognizing their own privilege, I agree with those who thought this hashtag was distracting attention away from Eric Garner and the issue of POC being over-policed and under-served by those in uniform. At times, many of these tweets almost seemed like humblebrags about the various offenses White people had gotten away with. “Look at how good it is to be white!” Talk about missing the point. In response, @JamilahLemieux started another hashtag, #AliveWhileBlack, POC could share stories about their encounters with law enforcement. Read it. Really read it. And then read #CrimingWhileWhite too, if you’d like, if only because in combination, the two hashtags illustrate the stark difference in the way POC and White people, in general, have been treated by law enforcement. [#AliveWhileBlack/#CrimingWhileWhite]