Surprise! Pokemon Go Is Racist Too

Michael McGrady Director of McGrady Policy Research
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Is Pokémon Go racist?

The app went viral almost overnight making it one of the top grossing applications for mobile phones. However, not everyone believes the game is a benign, universal pop-culture phenomenon. Some believe that it is inherently racist to black people.

Writer Omari Akil thinks that it is a legitimate “death sentence” for a black man to play “Pokémon Go,” citing concerns about recent black on cop violence from across the United States.

Akil says that, “the premise of Pokémon Go asks me to put my life in danger if I choose to play it as it is intended and with enthusiasm.” In addition, Akil provided four points that make his “breakdown simple” as to why there is a “statistical” chance that a black man would be killed playing a game on his cell phone.

“There is a statistically disproportionate chance that I will be shot while reaching for my identification that I always keep in my back right pocket,” reads one of Akil’s remarks. He also said that there is a chance because of his skin color he is more likely to be contacted by police, even if he doesn’t break the law.

Firstly, this reasoning is misguided based on the fact that it emulates similar sentiments from the Black Lives Matter movement that claims that the entire American criminal justice system is a tool of institutional racism meant to keep down black people and other minorities.

However, Just in 2012, black violent offenders (excluding perpetrators of homicide) committed 560,600 violent acts against whites while white violent offenders committed only 99,403 violent acts against blacks, according to data from the National Crime Victimization Survey obtained by National Review. Needless to say, more violent crimes means more violent incidents with police.

Regardless, the assumption that cops are going to gun down a black man without probable cause is also questionable.

Based on the examination of 987 cases of police fatally shooting a subject during the time frame of 2014-2015, done by The Washington Post, fifty percent of the examined cases were white victims of a fatal police shooting. Twenty six percent of the examined cases were black.

According to the same study, the Post, emphasized that 24 of sixty (40 percent) unarmed deaths cases examined were black men. However, Heather MacDonald, the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute, stated that even though the number rose (36 unarmed blacks and 31 unarmed whites) at the end of the year, was that the statistic of 7-1 dropped to 6-1 of unarmed black men to unarmed white men dropped.

MacDonald also indicated that the numbers don’t tell the whole story. It is worth looking at the specific cases included in the Post’s unarmed victim classification in some detail, since that category is the most politically explosive. The “unarmed” label is literally accurate, but it frequently fails to convey highly-charged policing situations,” she wrote in a column published by the Marshall Project.

In the end, the sentiment that Pokémon Go will get a black man killed could be rooted to a standard psychological response to the recent domestic terrorist attack on police in Dallas, Texas. As a typical terrorist, Dallas shooter Micah X. Johnson emulated the idea that one could “believe that their current political involvement does not give them the power to effect real change” and/or that they “believe that engaging in violence against the state is not immoral.”

Accompanied by real change is fear, a typical reaction to a freighting event. However, to thicken the plot, the fear in this case seemed to may have been on a plane of thought that is similar to a more violent series of thought processes that put five police officers in caskets.

Pokémon Go is a game. If you think it is racist, don’t play it… that simple.

Michael McGrady is a freelance writer from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter (@mikemcgrady2).