Don’t be Hoodwinked, Bamboozled, or Led Astray by People of Color! Six Safety Tips for Communities and Police Officers

Dear Community Members and Police Officers,

We, law-abiding, proud American citizens would like to take a moment to thank you for all of your hard work. Most of us can’t even imagine how challenging it must be to be called out to a potentially hostile environment and have to immediately determine who’s the victim and who’s the Black guy…I mean criminal…. And to further complicate matters, sometimes it looks like the alleged criminal is doing very normal things (walking, sitting, etc.). Don’t fall for it, it’s a trap! As many White women have shown us, those “normal” things are often a red herring.  But don’t you fret, we’re here to tell you all the warning signs… but from a distance…like, through a 911 call… We don’t want to get caught up in all that messiness.

Our team of diligent researchers has taken on the task of demystifying the, at times, ambiguous nature of law enforcement and compiled a list of 6 “Pro Tips” based on recent true events (i.e. crimes) to help our community and police officers stay alert to the new wave of crime. As the kids say #StayWoke!

Pro Tip 1: Nap = Cat Nap = Cat Burglar = Criminal!  

If there is a Black student taking a nap in the common room of their university dorm, they are clearly in commission of a crime and attempting to hide! Its like adult Peek-A-Boo, If you close your eyes, you disappear. But don’t let these sheep counting bandits pull a fast one on you! First of all, students are literally NEVER tired. They are young, full of energy, overly caffeinated, and have nothing to do but make poorly informed liberal decisions. So if a “student” is napping, that’s a red flag! Be. Alert. Danger is imminent. You must be sure to follow them up to their dorm room and when they open their dorm door, BAM! That’s a decoy! Red flag #2 (make sure to keep up, it gets dicey after this), people steal keys and put pictures of themselves in random rooms ALL THE TIME, just in case something like this were to happen! Technology has advanced and so has criminal activity! It’s important that you stay vigilant and insist on being shown university ID, a birth certificate, and 2 White people, just cause. It might seem excessive, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. This criminal could be napping in your common room next! #KeepTheFedsOnSpeedDial

Pro Tip 2: College Tour?…more like College CRIMES!

If there are two Native American students going on a school tour, it’s a set up! Who ever heard of one, let alone TWO Native American students going on a college tour? I haven’t! Clearly, they’ve come to do something criminal because, first and foremost they showed up late and second because they were wearing black shirts. Everyone knows Black went out of style in 2002; there is a reason Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch don’t sell Black clothing. To make matters worse, Black is the official color of criminal activity… and Batman, but clearly both of these men cannot be Batman (not White enough), therefore there is only one conclusion any reasonable person can draw from the evidence presented, #Criminal #CallThePoPo. Also, quick shout out to “Mary-Beth I’mTriggered WhiteWoman” (name changed to protect her identity), the American hero who saw nothing and made sure to say something! Let her patriotism be a lesson to us all.

Pro Tip 3: Who robs a house in a sun hat? Black Women, that’s who!

This one will throw you for a loop given pro tip #2, but sometimes thieves aren’t wearing all black (i.e. criminal attire). Sometimes they are just 3 Black women in sun hats trying to blend into society like shapeshifters, but don’t be fooled. These three women were leaving an Airbnb in California WITH LUGGAGE and did not wave at a White woman neighbor. Let’s break this down into all the major elements. First, what’s Airbnb? They made that up and if you can’t confirm its a real thing, it’s obviously made up, detain them for a minimum of 45 minutes. Second, why would they be leaving with luggage? Other than to steal things from the house they had keys to (the keys are also part of the ploy, keep up!)? There is literally NO OTHER explanation for these strange occurrences. Third, stay with me here, wouldn’t you wave at a stranger in a strange neighborhood you’ve only spent one night in and never visited anytime before? I would! But I’m a great human being, I know tons of White people, I literally have a binder full of them. And you know their #1 most common trait… they’re neighborly! You know the #1 most common trait of a criminal? You guessed it… Melanin! (Melanin means criminal in Latin) #HandsUp #Lock’EmUp #AllWavesMatter

Bonus Pro Tip: In instances as severe as this, it is IMPERATIVE to have a helicopter. If one of their hats flys away with all the evidence, you need to be able to track it. You’re welcome.

Pro Tip 4: If he’s holding a box, guess what, he’s a thief!

In the the spirit of luggage being suspicious, if you see a Black man taking luggage or boxes INTO an apartment, that’s a decoy! Somewhere, at some point, in some parallel universe, another Black man is taking boxes OUT of that same apartment. And do not be deterred by the fact that the apartment was vacant before the Black man showed up, it’s still a trap. Utilize every tool in your arsenal to investigate this issue (#Call5.0.). And even if he is able to prove he lives there, question it still, because who moves into an apartment by themselves? Does he not have friends? Everyone has friends. Except criminals… #StayAheadOfTheGame #AskGoodQuestions —No Friends + Black Man + Boxes = Criminal #CallTheMenInBlue

Pro Tip 5: FORE!…crime, that is!

Don’t trust a group of 5 Black women golfing. This might seem like an obvious one, but it necessitates emphasis because when cops responded to the two 911 calls, they left the scene of the crime and determined it wasn’t a police matter. How? Why? Where? Qué? I have questions! There were not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE Black women golfing slowly. The travesty shouldn’t have to be explained but clearly ya’ll missed it. Everyone knows the standard group size for golf is 4 persons, not 5, and certainly not Black or women. Furthermore, even though the patrons behind them said that they were not slowing them down, it is clear that they were being coerced into saying that because of how threatened they felt. Again, 1, 2, 3, 4, FIVE Black women: need I say more? Also, a round of golf takes an average of four hours; clearly this is a game of speed and people have places to go and things to do. So if an already oversized group is moving slowly this is a sign that something is about to pop-off. It could be a crime or it could be a divot, either way #TheCaddyHasAGun GET OUT! #They’reCasingTheJoint

Pro Tip 6: Coffee Capers Casing Counters Cause Catastrophes!

You’ve been hoodwinked, bamboozled, run-amuck, led astray! Two Black men walked into a Starbucks, asked to use the bathroom, were denied, sat down quietly, and patiently waited for a “friend.” This sounds like the plot of an Agatha Christie book. Now you may not see how this story can easily spiral out of control, but that’s why we’re the experts with the Pro Tips, stick with me here. Imagine this, you just happen to look up from your Double Shot Extra Hot Caramel Mocha Latte and see two Black men. By the time you blink a second time the barista on your left has spelled someone’s name wildly incorrectly on their cup and the mere presence of these two Black men serve as the catalyst of imminent mayhem and anarchy. See the story might start with Gym flipping out because obviously his name is spelled J-I-M, but it’ll end with these two Black men in handcuffs… somehow…because…um…yeah? I don’t know, I can’t predict the future, I’m not a fortune teller, but I can tell you this, no amount of clairvoyance can protect you from the obvious danger that these men posed. If they were a hurricane, I would have called their presence a category 5, as in 5.0., or call the PoPo. They had no business being in Starbucks, just sitting there, blinking, breathing… plotting. Starbucks is a place for White folk to type loudly on their laptops about that new Peruvian restaurant that fails at authenticity because it tastes nothing like that one meal they had in Peru and for them to display disapproving glances at people who go there to actually JUST drink coffee and talk. So it should have been of no surprise that some alarm bells went off when two Black men showed up, no laptops, no coffee, and no Yelp Elite accounts to merit their presence. The warning signs were easy on this one, thank goodness the store manager was heedful of that uneasy feeling one gets when minorities are present, things could have taken a turn for the worse. #TrustYourGut #MindTheClues and #BeThankfulForTheBoysInBlue

Note to the readers of color: The newest edition of “How To Not Get Arrested: A Black Person’s Guide to Breathing will be coming out in December of 2018. This book will have an updated Chapter on inhaling and exhaling safely in public, as well as some worksheets to help you practice. Pre-order now while supplies last, or… get arrested, that’s the best case scenario. *Kanye Shrug*, they’ll probably still call the cops on you.


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Christina Douyon is a Diversity Fellow and doctoral candidate in Counseling Psychology at Boston College. She is also a member of the Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture at Boston College.