Pokemon Go!: A Death Sentence for Black Men or a Bad Idea in General?

Over at Medium, Omari Akil expresses his fears upon the realization that wandering around looking for Pokemon through a cell phone is conspicuous as hell and probably really weird looking to anyone who doesn’t know what that person is doing.

His conclusion is that, with the current climate, black men will face disproportionate threat of being shot while playing Pokemon Go because white folks and cops will be weirded the hell out by black men wandering through residential neighborhoods and loitering about as they look for Pikachu.

So, what is Pokemon Go?  It is apparently the new hotness that combines geocaching with Pokemon.  What does this mean?  It means that weirdos will be wandering around your town with their cell phones out trying to find wild pokemon that have appeared on their google map or something.

There has been a lot of speculation on how and where these pokemon show up and why, but depending on where they’re showing up, the threat it poses is manifold and goes beyond race.

Regardless of your skin color, folks are gonna be creeped the hell out by folks who show up looking for Pokemon at playgrounds and parks (Why the hell is that guy pointing his phone at kids!?) and wandering around residential areas looking like you’re casing housing.

Pokemon are gonna show up in well-to-do white neighborhoods to the terror of black nerds; Pokemon are gonna show up in poor and dangerous black neighborhoods to the terror of white nerds; Pokemon are gonna show up on playgrounds to the terror of parents that are going to assume that they are mysteriously being swarmed by pedo-hipsters.

It’s one of those aspects of augmented reality that someone probably should’ve spent more time thinking about.  While I think Akil is being hyperbolic, and I can totally see now the crying mother saying “he was just tryin’ to find his pokemans!” after some kid gets shot having broken into somebody’s house, far more likely scenarios are kids and young women getting attacked and/or abducted after having headed down to skid row in search of rare candy.

Frankly, I don’t care what your skin color is, and I don’t  care what Professor Oak thinks may be on my lawn – kindly stay the hell off it.  I’m not going to shoot you, but if I see you with your phone out walking around my house at any time of the day, I’m calling the cops.

If you’re one of the millions of people who downloaded this app, think before you go off looking for Pokemon in places where normal folks don’t expect you to be poking around with cell phones and will think you’re up to something if you are.  Parents, if you’re letting your kids play this game, don’t be dumb and don’t let them do dumb things like look for Pokemon alone, look for them in strange neighborhoods, or look for them in places where they might get hurt (“There’s geodude down in old gravel pit!”).

Update: Holy crap!  This game literally has pokemon bait you can use to harass entire neighborhoods of people or, as in some cases that have already been reported on in the Daily Mail, lure distracted hipsters to a location where you can mug them!

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9 responses to “Pokemon Go!: A Death Sentence for Black Men or a Bad Idea in General?

  1. They have already started showing up on the university campus where I work. This is bad news because students in general don’t look where they are driving, and all we need is people wandering across the parking lot where some kid is late for class. I see bad things happening, and with the current legal climate in America the university could end up getting sued even if someone who isn’t affiliated with the campus being hit by someone else who isn’t affiliated with the campus.

    • It’s like, I don’t hate the idea in general – it actually seems really neat. But people are dumb and going to do dumb things, get themselves hurt and the next thing you know, folks will be trying to get anti-Augmented Reality laws passed.

  2. Let’s see who is the first who tries to enter Area 51 to see if there are magical pokemons.

    Anyway, like with many new technologies, I think the benefits (even if it’s just “being fun”) will outweight the problems. Except twitter and social media, of course, that’s still cancer and will always be.

  3. Yeah, I’ve been waiting for the stories of people getting hit by cars and getting into car accidents because they were distracted catching Poke-a-mons. We’ll see. ARGs are not new, but this one has exploded in a big way.

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