“Walking While Black” and Some Teaching Resources for Addressing Racism

The Nation Photographer- https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/price-transgression/

Dr. David J. Childs, Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University

When I walked to my car after working all day at Subway in my local mall, I was tired from being on my feet all day and dealing with customers. My car was in the parking garage, only a five minute walk from the Subway in the food court. As I approached my car I was all of a sudden surrounded by police officers and soon apprehended and taken to the security office in the mall. I am not sure if my rights were even read to me. After I collected my thoughts and sifted through the yelling and accusations. I figured out that they thought I was breaking into someone’s car when I had gone to get something out of my car earlier. A white woman had seen me (A black young man) in the parking lot going to my car and assumed I was breaking in. She had done her “duty” as an American citizen and promptly called the police. I remember all I could think of was that my mom is going to be worried sick because I was supposed to be home by 6pm. This is a true story that happened to me (The author) and typical of many experiences I have had throughout my life, living as a black man. The most recent being just a few months ago. But thankfully I have not been outside much because of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, so I have had somewhat of a break from personal racist encounters.   

There are many other black youth throughout the United States that have experiences like mine everyday. The topic of racism is often swept under the rug, but incidents like the George Floyd slaying have brought it to the forefront. Admittedly, the topic of racial discrimination is one that is uncomfortable and difficult to address with students. But one’s level of comfort with a topic is not an excuse to ignore it. Furthermore, the glaring examples of racism playing out in the media now make it difficult to ignore. I have included some resources from PBS and an article about Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” film to help teachers address racism with their students. I have also included my most recent lecture on the history of violence against African Americans prepared for teachers, students and the general public.

PBS Teaching Resources- Confronting Anti-Black Racism
Spike Lee Shares Short Film Mixing ‘Do the Right Thing’ With Footage of George Floyd, Eric Garner

A Lecture- We Can’t Breathe: A History of Violence Against African Americans


  1. As a black woman, I’m yet to encounter any interaction with any law enforcement body and I’m not looking for it. How is it possible to break into a car with the keys? Why were his rights not be read to him? I think they the government body responsible for the enforcement personnel need to do a good job with looking into situation before taking matters into their hands. I believe if author was white, high chances that they will question or read his right before taking him away. I also think people need to be educated on racism, being black is not crime and they are not criminals. There are black and white people out doing great and there are white and black out there committing crimes and doing the worse but black can’t be responsible for when things are bad. They are humans and they have blood running through their veins and we all didn’t get to choose our skin color so respecting our differences and showing love to one another will go along way.

  2. Absolutely no person should have to deal with these encounters of racism. It is so sad that people have to fear doing daily tasks because of racist people and people who have little knowledge of the subject. Although I am glad the discussion of racial discrimination is being brought to light, it should not make people uncomfortable and everyone should be educated on it. Teachers must educate students on violence against African Americans to prepare students for life.

  3. This report only adds to the growing body of evidence demonstrating how unfairly people of color are treated. It’s difficult to comprehend the prejudices and stereotypes that white people hold against individuals of color. I can’t fathom what it feels like to always be fearful becoming a target in the eyes of the police and other of power.

  4. Your personal story goes to show how your reaction can dictate a situation even though you did nothing wrong. It also goes to show how no one can truly understand the challenges of being a black person in America.

  5. Wow! I have only had one racist encounter. I know, only one? I believe that no should should have to experience racist encounters. My encounters have never been like that. However, how do you come back from that? Is there something that can be done after to get restitution?

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