How to Protect Yourself from White Men With Guns in America

By Hope Wabuke

for Trayovon Martin, Jordan Davis, Mike Brown and Tamir Rice

Don’t walk too fast. Don’t walk too slow. Keep your head down. Don’t keep your head down. Don’t stop walking when he pulls over. Don’t stop walking when he gets out of his car with his loaded gun. Don’t stop walking when he tells you to stop walking so it will be easier for him to shoot you. Know that he will shoot you whether you are walking or standing or sitting in your friend’s car minding your own business. Don’t get angry when he tells you to stop walking. Don’t get angry when he tells you to roll down the windows, tells you that you and your kind don’t belong here. Don’t get angry if he calls you boy or nigger. If you get angry you might try to defend yourself after he shoots you and then they will say he had a right to shoot you because you were attacking him and he was standing his ground. Don’t think about the other children who look like you whom men who look like him have killed and gotten away with it. Don’t run, especially when he pulls out his gun and shoots you — they will say you were running towards him to attack him and he had a right to shoot you because he was standing his ground. Don’t wear a hoodie. Don’t put your hands in your pockets. Don’t hold anything in your hands. Do not move your hands at all or they will say afterwards that you were reaching to pull out a gun and he was right to shoot you because he was standing his ground. Don’t think about how he is twice your size and has a gun and you are not even old enough to drive let alone buy a gun too. Don’t think about how you were just walking home and he got out of his car with a loaded gun to attack you — how can he be standing his ground? Don’t think about how your mother will feel when you don’t come home, when she hears on the evening news that a child with your name has been shot coming home from school. Don’t call your best friend because you are scared — you are a child, alone, being hunted down by a man twice your size with a gun and you are scared of him — your best friend’s reputation will be destroyed and she will be called fat and ugly and retarded and an unreliable witness by them afterwards. Don’t think about how they will destroy your reputation afterwards, too, and say you deserved to be shot. Don’t think you can run to the police for help — they will shoot you and say you were attacking them or resisting arrest and they were standing their ground. Don’t think the police will arrest your killer. Do know that if, eventually, they later arrest your killer because of nationwide outrage and protests, your killer will be found not guilty and will serve no time for killing you.