Black People Are Sharing The Rules They Follow That Most White People Don't Even Know About, And This Is So Important

·7 min read

We recently wrote up the unwritten rules people of color follow that most white people don't have to worry about.

A woman standing with her arms crossed.
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Well, there were so many submissions from our Black readers that we decided to do a whole post specifically on the Black community. So here are 21 unwritten rules that Black people follow every day:

1."No matter how angry you get, you try and remain calm. If you raise your voice even a little — regardless of what you say or how you say it — you are instantly labeled an 'angry Black woman' and judged wrongly, even when you’re right."

—Anonymous

"As a Black woman, it’s frustrating to see that Black women are seen as angry, aggressive, combative, and/or difficult when disagreeing about something while my white peers are seen as passionate, energetic, and spirited debaters. It’s disappointing, unfair, and can have a serious impact on one's career."

—Anonymous

A woman in a business suit looking into the camera.
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2."My mother taught me to ALWAYS ask for a bag and receipt, no matter how small the purchase, or you can be accused of stealing."

—Anonymous

A sales clerk handing the customer their credit card and their items in a bag.
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3."As a Black man, my father taught me, when being pulled over by the police, to pull your insurance and registration out of the glovebox and keep it ready on your seat. That way, you do not have to reach in the glovebox when the police are at your window."

—Anonymous

"After teaching my sons how to drive and after they got their licenses, I then had to teach them how to handle police if they get pulled over so they are not deemed a threat and make it home alive."

—Anonymous

A man handing his drivers license to a police officer.
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4."As a Black woman in a predominantly white area, I make a point of approaching staff first in stores when I walk in. I ask an innocuous question in a friendly, high-pitched voice, even if I don't need anything. They seem to feel safer around me and do not follow me around when I do that first."

—Anonymous

A customer speaking to staff at a store.
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5."As a Black woman, I usually keep my college jacket in the car. If I have to go to the emergency room, I'll receive better treatment if doctors see that I have a higher education."

eboniw2

An emergency room sign.
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6."I'm from Louisiana where they still have 'sundown towns.' Avoid them at all costs, but if you have to pass through at night, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A FULL TANK OF GAS so that you don't have to stop."

bigscooby04

"When road tripping, every Black person knows not to stop in a rural area for gas or a pee break if you can help it, especially at night. I know someone whose child actually peed their pants because the area they were driving through was a sundown town, and they weren't going to risk it."

paigedagnew

A man driving his car.
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7."I am a Black woman, relatively new to my mostly white neighborhood. When I take a walk for exercise, I always walk in the middle of the street, not too close to houses on either side. I wear reflective gear and avoid staring too closely at any of the houses. I often think of Ahmaud Arbery while I’m walking."

Super_Novah

"I am a 50-year-old Black man who lives in a 98% white neighborhood. I do not go for walks alone, ever. I do not trust the level of suspicion that white residents would have regarding my presence. For example, when kids of color visit our neighborhood to do door-to-door sales, someone usually posts their presence in our neighborhood association Facebook page. So at least, I make sure I am walking my dog, or better yet, walking with my spouse."

—Anonymous

A couple walking their dog through a neighborhood.
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8."I was taught to be an overachiever because no one expects a Black woman to be smart and well-spoken. I’m not expected to have a voice in anything, and many are shocked when I do. They are astounded when I can verbalize my thoughts and opinions in multi-syllable words. Melanin and ovaries do not cancel out intelligence and reason."

—Anonymous

A woman sitting behind her computer.
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9."Never EVER put your hands in your pockets while walking around a store. If you don't want to give them a reason to follow you around or call the police, your hands need to be visible at all times."

—Anonymous

A man in a store with his hands in his pockets.
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10."As a Black man, never get into an elevator with a woman alone. Always wait for the next one."

—Anonymous

A man pushing the button for an elevator.
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11."Something I know I have to be careful of in public (as a person mixed with white and Black) is remembering which parent I'm with and how to act. This is called code-switching. I have to make sure I act okay so I'm not labelled as 'ghetto' with my mom or 'white-washed' with my dad."

—Anonymous

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12."No matter how cold or windy it is, my hood stays off, and my earbuds/headphones stay off my ears."

Jojo_Bunny

A man crossing the street.
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13."As a Black man who loves hip-hop, I often have to censor the music that I listen to so I won't be judged as a 'thug.'"

—Anonymous

A man sitting in a park and listening to music on his headphones.
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14."As a Black man, if there is a white woman in line, you stand back far enough so you cannot touch her by mistake or be accused of touching her."

—Anonymous

People standing in line and wearing masks.
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15."Knowing that I’ll be followed when shopping in high-end stores, I have product-related questions prepared for when they invariably ask me if I need assistance. Replying with 'No thank you, I’m just browsing' makes their suspicion jump, and suddenly, I have an unofficial entourage. I’m a college-educated Black man about to turn 40, but I still have to play these sorts of silly games. It can be very exhausting."

—Anonymous

A man looking at clothing in a store.
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16."As a Black woman who works a swing shift and gets off work at 11 p.m., I will not take off my badge until I get inside my garage. I need to have a layer of protection to prove I'm not up to no good in case I get pulled over."

—Anonymous

A woman being pulled over by a police officer.
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17."When meeting with executives or high-ranking officials where appropriate attire would be business casual for others, I wear full business attire. I’ve found that when I dress more formally, I receive more eye contact, head-nodding, and enthusiasm during conversations. This happens consistently."

"Obviously, my words should be enough. If they aren’t perceived as such, my reputation and credentials certainly should be. But in the rooms I walk in, I’m often still the only woman of color, many times the only Black person, and sometimes, the only woman. Intersectionality is real. My suit somehow overrides their initial perception of who I am and what I’m there to do. I want the win, but it’s tiring to have to go above and beyond constantly just to be taken seriously."

—Anonymous

A woman in a business suit rubbing her upper nose.
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18."I work in the hospital. Any time I get a patient out of bed, and they ask me to move their purse, I make sure it remains in their sight as I move it. I also hope that it’s a room with a camera, just in case any discrepancy comes up."

devant24

A doctor showing a patient something on an iPad.
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19."Don’t wear any jewelry/sunglasses of the brand where you are shopping in-store. As a Black woman, I’ve had an employee rip Gucci shades off my head (they were mine) and tell me not to stretch the merchandise."

—Anonymous

A woman wearing designer sunglasses.
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20."Never let your kids play with toy guns."

—Anonymous

A toy gun laying on the floor.
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21.And finally, "I find myself begging to get adequate medical care for the autoimmune disease and pain I deal with. Pain in Black folks is viewed much differently than in white people. It blows my mind how a lot of people don't realize that Black people get the short end of the stick in healthcare."

estoricpisces

A woman laying in a hospital bed and looking out the window.
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Black folks, are there any other unwritten rules you follow every day? Share your experience in the comments below.

Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.