WATCH ABOVE: Peter Kim explains why critics say the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite points to double standard in policing.
TORONTO – Two new hashtags, #CrimingWhileWhite and #AliveWhileBlack, are simultaneously calling attention to white privilege and racism in the United States in the wake of a grand jury’s decision not to charge New York City cops involved in the death of Eric Garner.
The hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite was first used Wednesday to call attention to the privilege white people in the United States possess by allegedly getting away with crimes because of the colour of their skin.
The hashtag went viral later on December 3, according to the Washington Post, with more than 300,000 tweets overall. The hashtag’s popularity peaked with more than 600 tweets a minute.
Some of the admitted crimes are minor – speeding or driving with an expired license – but others are serious and include stealing cars, drunk driving or assaulting a police officer. All of them claim they were let off with as little as a warning.
A Staten Island grand jury decided Wednesday not to charge the officer involved in the choking death of Eric Garner, a black man in New York City, despite visual evidence and a medical examiner ruling the chokehold used by the officer contributed to Garner’s death.
The decision set of a chain reaction of protests across New York City, the United States and on Twitter.
The grand jury decision also spawned another hashtag on Twitter: #alivewhileblack. The hashtag sought to expose the difficulties black people face while doing everyday things.