Nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd have forced many to address their privilege, and really try to understand what it’s like for people of color living in America—or other parts of the world, for that matter. Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died of asphyxiation on May 25 when Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, pressed his knee to his neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd was lying on the ground handcuffed.
Although it is certainly not the responsibility of a Black person to educate the rest of us on what it’s like growing up in this country (however, there are plenty of resources worth checking out) one teen has gone viral on TikTok by offering users a glimpse into his reality.
Cameron Welch, an 18-year-old who lives in Houston, uploaded the following video listing the unwritten rules his mom makes him follow as a young Black man.
Those rules are as follows:
- Don’t put your hands in your pockets.
- Don’t put your hoodie on.
- Don’t be outside without a shirt on.
- Check-in with your people, even if you’re down the street.
- Don’t be out too late.
- Don’t touch anything you’re not buying.
- Never leave the store without a receipt or a bag, even if it’s just a pack of gum.
- Never make it look like there’s an altercation between you and someone else.
- Never leave the house without your ID.
- Don’t drive with a wifebeater on.
- Don’t drive with a du-rag on.
- Don’t go out in public with a wifebeater or a du-rag.
- Don’t ride with the music too loud.
- Don’t stare at a Caucasian woman.
- If a cop stops you randomly and starts questioning you, don’t talk back, just compromise.
- If you ever get pulled over, put your hands on the dashboard and ask if you can get your license and registration out.
The video has been viewed over 10 million times and has clearly resonated.
“I want people to understand the type of things my mom has to instill in me because my people continue to be judged by the color of our skin and not the content of our character, as Martin Luther King Jr. said,” Welch told Buzzfeed News. “It is a required conversation our parents must have to ensure that we come home alive.”
“Our voices are heard but not felt by the people,” Welch added. “We endure too much pain and hurt to just be heard—we need you to feel just a fragment of what my people feel on a day-to-day basis in order to get meaningful change. I believe if you felt the bottled-up emotions of silence that our country makes us hold in, then we can make real change. Because not one race should ever feel this way.”
Welch seems wise beyond his years, although the circumstances in which he’s been forced grow up have clearly shaped that insight and knowledge. For Welch and millions of teens like him, here’s hoping for lasting, if not overdue, change.