Over the past week, the world has gone gaga when Pokemon Go was released. But this seemingly enjoyable app adds to the long list of things black people might do with hesitation and could potentially result in death.
For starters, Pokemon Go, an augmented reality-based game, was made by gaming giant Nintendo based on the popular game of the same name in the 1990s. The game is based on a fictional world where exotic animals called Pokemons thrive.
The app primarily brings to the user the experience of finding and catching Pokemons located virtually anywhere. The locations of the monsters are determined by the phone’s GPS as well as the time, tech website VOX reported.
Although the makers of Pokemon Go might have been thinking about good things when they were developing the app, little did they know that the project could lead to a more socially-relevant issue: racism.
According to an article from an African-American tech blogger Omari Akil, playing the app when you’re a black man could potentially lead to serious trouble. In his article titled “Warning: Pokemon GO is a Death Sentence if you are a Black Man,” he argued that even the app, which was built solely for entertainment, could fuel this century-old problem.
“When my brain started combining the complexity of being Black in America with the real world proposal of wandering and exploration that is designed into the gameplay of Pokemon GO, there was only one conclusion. I might die if I keep playing,” Akil wrote.
He said there is “statistically disproportionate chance” that black men could be reported, investigated, or arrested by authorities as they roam around looking for Pokemon. It may sound silly, but it’s actually true, he added.
While some have disagreed with Akil’s view, many have shared his sentiments. One commenter Jesse Kremen-Hallowell even said, “I know this doesn’t solve the problem as a societal issue, and I know that it doesn’t help at all when you’re alone, and I know that it could be considered twisted to offer offsetting racial profiling and violence using white privilege……but if I were a friend of yours in the same neighborhood I would go pokemon hunting with you.”