Black teen shares rules his mom gives him just to exist in public and try to stay safe
In the wake of global protests against racism and police brutality, more and more black people are speaking out about the racism they encounter every single day. One of those is Cameron Welch, an 18-year-old who posted a powerful video to TikTok listing all the rules his mom made him memorize to help him stay safe whenever he left the house.
Welch said he had memorized the list by the time he was just 11 years old. “Jus some unwritten rules my mom makes me follow as a young black man #blacklivesmatter,” he wrote in the caption of the video, which has now been viewed more than 10 million times.
The list is pretty extensive, covering everything from how to act inside stores so cashiers won’t think you’re stealing, to how to act and dress while driving to avoid being pulled over unnecessarily by police.
- 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.
When you think about the deaths that have made headlines — George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Arbery, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and so many countless others — you begin to see why a mother would make these rules for her black son.
In the video’s comments, many black and Latinx teens said their parents had given them similar lists of rules they’d had to learn. “mother told me the same thing,” one wrote. Another commented, “we shouldn’t have to live like this.”
One person even commented, “Saving this video for my future son,” to which Welch replied, “His future shouldn’t be like this.”
“In this moment in our country, it was necessary for me to use my voice, so I put out the video,” Welch told HuffPost. “I wanted people to hear and understand the real truth of a Black man’s daily experience. I want people to see that we need change and that no one should have to live like this.”