Politics & Race
The Complete List of Things Black People Should Not Do If They Don’t Want To Be Killed

By Michael Harriot

Last night police shot another unarmed Black man. If you’re reading this weeks from now, or months from now, it will  probably still be correct. Today is the 203rd day of 2016. Police have shot and killed 598 people. 148 of them were Black. Statistically, you’d be lucky to read this on a day where police haven’t killed a Black person. That’s not an opinion. Those are the numbers.

Why, though?

You’ll read a lot about societal factors. You will hear excuses about training. There are people ho say it is because of hate. Or conspiracy. Or stupidity.

It doesn’t matter why. The mothers throwing dirt on their son’s caskets, the sons who no longer have mothers and the daughters left without fathers don’t give a damn about sensitivity training or socioeconomic indicators. They kill Black people.



Media outlets, politicians and clean-shaven Black police lieutenants shoved in front of cameras to appease Black people will offer many excuses for policemen-turned murderers. Within hours we knew Micah Johnson, who shot the cops in Dallas was an anti-cop hateful terrorist. We already know Gavin Long was an anti-cop Black separatist who planned to kill policemen, but whenever policemen spill Black blood, the refrain is always the same:

“Don’t jump to conclusions. The video only shows one side. You should remain calm until we collect all the evidence and conduct an investigation.”
They are usually forgiven and almost always not charged or acquitted because… Black people. Or racism. Or #BlueLivesMatter. There are people who tread into the dark world of respectability shuck and jive who advise Black people to stop resisting. They tell Black boys to respect authority and comply with police as if there is anything they can do, or stop doing that will completely negate the chances of being shot in the face.
I’m sure someone reading this article will say some variation of, “Well, what about Black On Black Crime and how you kill each other. To that I offer three responses:
1. We’re not talking about that
2. If we talk about Black on Black Crime, we will have to address the 83% of White victims of violence where the crimes committed by white people.
3.Shut the fuck up.
In an effort to catalog this madness, NegusWhoRead presents all the shit you should not do if you are Black and allergic to bullet holes.

Smoke We all know cigarettes can kill, but Sandra Bland apparently never read the Surgeon General’s warning label that proclaims refusing to put out your cigarette, when combined with a failure to signal can cause an inexplicable death by hanging by trash bag when no other inmate in the history of that jail ever recalls having access to a trash bag.

Break up a fight Most people think police arrived on the scene to arrest Eric Garner for selling cigarettes. This is untrue. Police were called to the scene because of a fight, but by the time they arrived, Garner had already broken up the fight. One of the officers knew Eric Garner had been arrested for selling cigarettes and decided to do it again. Even though they had not seen him selling cigarettes. Even though they hadn’t been called for that reason. Then Daniel Pantaleo put the asthmatic Eric Garner in a chokehold banned by the NYPD until he died.

Panataleo was never charged with a crime.

Don’t talk to strangers No, this doesn’t mean you can get killed for talking to strangers. It means you can be killed for practicing what every police officer, teacher and parent tells every child–“avoid strangers.”

So if you’re walking home one day and notice a strange car slowly following you, you should beware. If the person driving gets out of the car, you should run. If they keep following you, you might have to turn around and fight them. But be sure to let this strange stalker (who you don’t know) win, because if you get on top of them, apparently they have the right to shoot you in the chest.

Ask Trayvon.

Drive Away – James Burns shot Deravis Cain Rogers as he was was driving away.

Walk Away It doesn’t matter if you’re innocent, like Amadou Diallo, who walked to his apartment and was shot 19 times.

Run Away: Even if you leave in a hurry like Freddie Gray, Jr. Even if you’re not that fast and the cop shoots you in the back, like Walter Scott. Both ended up dead. Neither had even been charged with a crime.

Listen to music – Michael Dunn killed Jordan Davis because his music was too loud.

Carry a knife It doesn’t matter if you don’t brandish it at police. Laquan McDonald wasn’t walking towards officers when they shot him. Kejeme Powell had a butter knife 50 feet away from police whenthey shot him. Apparently Black men aren’t allowed to own anything sharper than a Phillips head screwdriver. Scratch that. Jason Harrison was mentally ill and only had a screwdriver when cops knocked on his door and shot him.

Carry a illegally concealed firearm Like Alton Sterling, whose gun was in his back pocket when police shot him in the head.

Carry a legally concealed firearm Like Philando Castile. Even though the cop never saw it. Even though he told the officer about it. Even though he was licensed to carry.

Carry a toy firearm – Like John Crawford III, who was carrying a BB gun to the register at Wal Mart when cops burst into the store and opened fire.

Comply – South Carolina State Trooper Sean Groubert pulled over Levar Jones for not having a seatbelt and asked for his license. When Jones reached for it, Groubert opened fire at point blank range.

Surrender – Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams led the police on a 25-minute chase before they decided to surrender. Police shot into their car 137 times. Officer Michael Brelo stood on the hood of the car and emptied his clip at point-blank range. Then he reloaded and fired a grand total of 49 rounds.

He was acquitted of all charges.

Play – Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old boy, paying with a toy gun in a parkLet me say that again. In a park. Timothy McGinty (an officer with bad history who previous officers recommended  not be hired)  pulled up to the park and fired on him within 2 seconds.

He never served any time.

Sleep – Aiyana Jones was 7, asleep on the couch with her grandmother when Joseph Weekley shot her dead. Neither Aiyana or her mother had a weapon.

All charges against Weekley were dismissed.

HelpCharles Kinsey, a therapist for an autistic child was trying to get the child out of the middle of the street. Kinsey complied with police. He laid down. He screamed that he was unarmed. He held his hands up.

They still shot him.

Ask for help – Johnathan Ferrell wrecked his car and went looking for help. When police officers arrived on the scene they tased him. Then they shot him. Then he died.

Then they walked free.

Move suddenlyChristopher DiPashquale and Kirk Dodd pulled over 17 -ear-old Donta Dawson and told him to put his hands up. When he did, they shot him for “sudden movements

They were cleared of charges.

Be completely still Natasha McKenna was handcuffed with her hands behind her back. Her legs were in shackles. Her face was restrained with a mesh mask. Cops tasered her repeatedly with 50,000 volts of electricity until she died.

She was 5’3″, 140 lbs.

Look – Tommy Sanders, a police officer, approached Lamont Hunt because Hunt was “staring at him.” Sanders said Hunt attacked him, but every witness in the trial said that Hunt did not assault him, but walked away. Sanders shot Hunt in the back of the head.

He was found not guilty.

Breathe Akai Gurley didn’t do anything. He didn’t run. He didn’t commit a crime. He didn’t attack. He just walked out of his house and a cop shot him in the chest. After he was shot,  the cop stood over him without offering help or calling for an ambulance and watched him die.

It is clear that all these offenses fall under one category. There is nothing you can do to avoid having your life taken, but there is one thing that ties all these shootings together. There is one common denominator of all these crimes that might prevent you from being shot if you can avoid it.

Stop being Black.


About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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