When Was The Last Time You Felt Like A Target Just For Being Black? 18 New Yorkers Respond
A few hours before the second night of protests against police violence began at Union Square in New York City, I went to the area to ask attendees a simple, but difficult, question: When was the last time you felt like a target as a black person? It was not an especially difficult question for people to answer, but rather, for me to ask as a white woman. But in a week where Alton Sterling, a black man from Louisiana, was shot dead by police, and another black man, Philando Castile, was shot dead during a traffic stop in Minnesota, I felt it was an important question to ask. Perhaps especially given my white privilege, I deserved to feel so uncomfortable asking it.
The two deaths, two of so many shootings of black people at the hands of police officers, have sparked outrage and protests around the country. In the midst of it all, five police officers were gunned down by a sniper in Dallas during a protest over police violence, and seven others were wounded Thursday night. It's been a horrible week.
But what white people are too often able to forget is how being black in America can make you feel like a full-time target — it is not just this week, but every week, that the people I spoke to are made to feel different or in danger simply for being black. Here were there answers:
"As a homeless man with a white wife, I feel like a target all the time."
"Every single day when I walk into a store."
"It is 7/8/2016. 3 Black men were murdered by police this last week alone. I feel unsafe right NOW. I have a knife in my back pocket."
"I feel target when I'm driven with my friends or group of us in the car and police slow down and make judgement on us."
"As I enter train station where police hold random searches."
"Walking six blocks from my friends' house. I got stopped by car full of undercover cops."
"Checking my bag & friend's bad while avoiding caucasian girls bag because we looked 'threatening.'"
"Every time I enter a store."
"When I'm on the subway and I feel the reluctance of someone to sit next to me."
"Walking in a mostly white neighborhood."
"I want to feel protected by police but I don't."
"When a neighbor yelled racial slurs at my parents when I was 8."
"When I was sitting with my dog at a dog run and police came at me with their guns drawn and asked what I was doing there."
"Every time I pass 110th street! Harlem!"
"I bumped into some Asian kid and he begged me not to rob him."
"I was accused of trying to rob the wine shop I work at."
"I feel like a target solely because I exist!"