The Fear Of Black Men In America: Join Our Twitter Chat #FearAndRace
NPR's Michel Martin led two challenging conversations about race this week, focusing on fearful perceptions of African-American men and how these fears play out in people's everyday lives. Guests including author and Georgetown University Law professor Paul Butler examined the research and the complicated emotions behind this fear.
"When you're in an elevator or walking behind somebody and you feel like you have to perform to make them feel safe, it's like apologizing for your existence," Butler says.
Others have already joined the conversation through social media. We heard from a white woman haunted by memories of being mugged by black men years ago, from a black pastor who has had the doors of some churches closed to him because of his race, and from another black man who described dealing with this fear as "heartbreaking."
Now we want to hear from you. Join us for a Twitter chat with Michel Martin (@NPRMichel) and Code Switch's Gene Demby (@GeeDee215) today at 12:30 p.m. ET. Join in by using the hashtag #FearAndRace. We'll be collecting some of your messages here in this post.
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@NPRMichel @MorningEdition I had to pull over on my way home from hospital to listen fully. Black Men speaking about #FearAndRace. . . tears— Sheila Downing (@SheilaDowningRN) March 31, 2015
@DrTonyJohnson Been quick-smiling at black men forever. I now think it's to say "I'm not afraid.” Is this reverse profiling? #fearandrace— Karen Schwartzkopf (@KarenRFM) March 31, 2015
Spoke with a young black family man last night whom has been arrested 5 times since moving to my Texas town from Detroit. #fearandrace— Robbie Ryan (@RobbieRyanMusik) March 31, 2015
I'm 6'2" and little white ladies are startled by me when I walk through the grocery store. #fearandrace— Jack Elliott (@Jacksmashmetal) March 31, 2015
Q1: Is there something about race that makes fear stick? Share using #FearAndRace— Michel Martin (@NPRMichel) March 31, 2015
#FearAndRace @NPRMichel It is a soul-stealing state to always be viewed as a monster, to smile and hold down the pain that others can't see.— Call Me A Dreamer (@MisterC2u2) March 31, 2015
Every time I walk in a store in the winter time, I always take off my hoodie and take my hands out of my pockets #fearandrace— E. (@E_Swagg20) March 31, 2015
having to repeatedly explains things only to have them "reasoned" away #fearandrace— Eric Atkinson (@dreds71) March 31, 2015
Q2: Some say that fear is a rational response to higher rates of crime by Black people? What about that? #FearAndrace— Michel Martin (@NPRMichel) March 31, 2015