Shopping While Black
Today I shopped at the Giant Food Store on Route 611 in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. I was shopping for fresh flat-leaf parsley. I asked a store employee for parsley was and he told me that it was with the spices. He said he did not know where the spices were. I thanked him and found the parsley myself near the vegetables. A few minutes later I observe a white male asking the same store employee for help. The employee left what he was doing and helped the white man find what he was looking for. I am black and I take it that I don’t matter in the economy of this worker. On Sunday, I took a Delta Airline flight from Atlanta to New York. I observed a white women leave the coach section of the aircraft to use the toilet in the first class section. It occurred to me that she was not challenged because of her white skin. When an elderly black man attempted the same thing, his skin told on him “This facility is reserved for first class passengers.” I hope he didn’t pee on himself while waiting for the coffee and snack cart to finish the rounds. The funny thing is that the flight attendant probably did not realize that the white woman was not a first class passenger. But she knew that the black man belonged in the back of the plane. She had her eyes on him. Daily black people endure these little indignities. Daily, while walking, riding a bike, speaking black, shopping while black, flying on planes while black, being in the park, swimming at the pool, being in church, in a police van, black in court, we are treated differently. Just for being black.
Headlines abound with stories of an unarmed blacks being killed by police officers who are not doing something wrong, but for simply being black.The recent killings of unarmed black men, women and children by police in New York, Texas, Maryland, South Carolina, Ohio and Florida, and the failure to prosecute the killers, sends the message to black communities that black lives do not matter. Unarmed black people were killed by police at 5x the rate of unarmed whites in 2015. (Source: Mapping Police Violence.org:) Posters reading “Black Lives Matter,” “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot,” “I Can’t Breathe,” communicate the reality of a specific kind of racial vulnerability that black people experience on a daily basis. How does all this communicate to black people that their lives don’t matter?