Black Lives Matter, BLM, Racial Profiling, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

Running While Black: Melanin and Movement Does Not a ‘Thug’ Make – The Root Rule 1: If your skin comes within two dozen shades of looking blue in the moonlight, don’t run at night. Rule 2: If your schedule demands it, be careful.

If Marine veteran-cum-lawyer David Lee Phillips wasn’t familiar with those rules before an officer stopped him while he was running at night back in 2010, he was by the time six more arrived as backup and threatened to use a Taser on him. After all, not only was Phillips carrying a golf club (which he had long since put down) in case he ran into any of the neighborhood’s stray dogs, but he had the nerve to ask for probable cause when they demanded to search him.

I, however, wasn’t familiar with such laws until my first holiday leave. I called my grandmother the night before, and as soon as I mentioned looking forward to outstripping some issues on a roadside by Louisiana starlight, she was warning me to “watch myself out there” when I came. When I brought it up later in the unofficial barracks barbershop, every brother in the unit joked about me getting jumped in “Hicktown.” I realized then that not a single black runner I’d ever met hasn’t been followed.

Perversion of a black man’s attempt to take care of himself doesn’t come in the form of a pickup with floodlights and a Confederate flag. It comes, as it came for me last week, in the guise of a white woman suddenly easing off the gas, keeping 20 paces behind you and kicking on the high beams so you can’t see her face—not that I needed to.

Black Lives Matter, BLM, Racial Profiling, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNPhoto | Elena Scotti/The Root/GMG


Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an international activist movement, originating in the African-American community, that campaigns against violence toward black people. BLM regularly organizes protests around the deaths of black people in killings by law enforcement officers, and broader issues of racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system.

In 2013, the movement began with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin. Black Lives Matter became nationally recognized for its street demonstrations following the 2014 deaths of two African Americans: Michael Brown, resulting in protests and unrest in Ferguson, and Eric Garner in New York City.

Since the Ferguson protests, participants in the movement have demonstrated against the deaths of numerous other African Americans by police actions or while in police custody, including those of Tamir Rice, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Jonathan Ferrell, Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose and Freddie Gray. In the Summer of 2015, Black Lives Matter began to publicly challenge politicians—including politicians in the 2016 United States presidential election—to state their positions on BLM issues. The overall Black Lives Matter movement, however, is a decentralized network and has no formal hierarchy or structure. (Wikipedia).