In the stores downtown
we’re always followed around
just because we’re brown.
This poem from Jacqueline Woodson’s verse memoir Brown Girl Dreaming was written about Woodson and her family’s experience growing up in 1960s South Carolina, but it could have been written about today. The image that immediately came to mind was not young Woodson buying milk at a grocery store, but Vine user Rashid Polo and the way he documented his own experience shopping while black just a few months ago.
In 2013, President Obama made a statement at an unscheduled White House briefing surrounding the George Zimmerman verdict. He talked candidly about race, about his own experience being racially profiled. He said, “[…] Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. […] There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.”