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Charlotte Talks: Having The Cops Called For #LivingWhileBlack

Left: Facebook - Jasmine Edwards / Center: Twitter - @_ethiopiangold / Right: Twitter / Melissa DePino

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Incidents of African Americans going about their lives having law enforcement called on them have given rise to the #LivingWhileBlack hashtag. What's at the root of these episodes, including a Fourth of July encounter in Winston-Salem?

Adam Bloom went viral on July Fourth, but the notoriety wasn't flattering. Bloom, who is white, called the police on an African American woman, Jasmine Abhulimen, who was using a neighborhood pool. In a video Abhulimen posted to Facebook and seen by millions, Bloom challenged her use of the pool, even though Abhulimen had an access card for the facility.

Two days later, Bloom lost his job

Whites call the police because they know the police have become the kind of service agency of last resort. - Johns Hopkins University political scientist Vesla Mae Weaver.

It was the latest in a string of incidents this year that have led to the #LivingWhileBlack hashtag documenting cases of whites calling 911 on African Americans. The most high-profile of these cases was the April arrest of two African American men in a Philadelphia Starbucks.

Experts on the intersection of race, society and law enforcement offer their perspectives on the causes of these encounters.


Elijah Anderson, professor of sociology and African American studies, Yale University; author of The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life (@ElijaAnderson)

Vesla Mae Weaver, associate professor of political science and sociology, Johns Hopkins University; co-author of Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control (@VeslaWeaver)

Derrik Anderson, executive director, Race Matters for Juvenile Justice