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People Of Color Are Sharing The Rules They Follow That Most White People Don't Even Know About, And It's An Important Conversation

"When road tripping, every Black person knows not to stop in a rural area for gas or a pee break if you can help it, especially at night."

It's no secret that people of color are forced to walk through life differently than white people.

People walking across a crosswalk

So we recently asked the BIPOC folks in the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the rules they follow that most white people don't know about. Here's what they had to say:

1. "I am a Mexican American woman. I ALWAYS make sure to have my receipt in my hand when leaving a store. The number of times I’ve been stopped and asked for a receipt..."


2. "I'm from Louisiana where they still have 'sundown towns.' Avoid them at all costs, but if you have to pass through at night, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A FULL TANK OF GAS so that you don't have to stop."


"When road tripping, every Black person knows not to stop in a rural area for gas or a pee break if you can help it, especially at night. I know someone whose child actually peed their pants because the area they were driving through was a sundown town, and they weren't going to risk it."


3. "As a Black person, no matter how cold or windy it is, my hood stays off, and my earbuds/headphones stay off my ears."


Black person walking with a hoodie with the hood off

4. "As a Middle Eastern man, I make sure to always shave and dress professionally when I go to the airport. I also try to arrive an extra hour earlier because nine times out of ten, I am the randomly chosen passenger to get searched by the TSA agents."


5. "As a Black woman, I usually keep my college jacket in the car. If I have to go to the emergency room, I'll receive better treatment if doctors see that I have a higher education."


6. "Make sure your hands are visible to the cameras when handling money at work. If money were to go missing, you would be the first one they suspected."


BIPOC cashier

7. "I'm Mexican. I ALWAYS carry ID in case I'm stopped and asked to prove my legal status in the country."


8. "In predominantly white places, I don’t speak loudly in another language. I fear someone will tell me the cliché, 'This is America; speak English.' Or someone might go off on my family for speaking another language."


9. "No matter how angry you get, you try and remain calm. If you raise your voice even a little – regardless of what you say or how you say it – you are instantly labeled an 'angry Black woman' and judged wrongly, even when you’re right."


Black worker sitting in an office, looking frustrated

10. "As Asian people, we have to try our best to pronounce every syllable correctly. Instead of compassion and understanding if we mispronounce something, we get laughed at and called names. People who can only speak one language will question our intelligence when we are multilingual."


11. "As a Mexican American, you don’t drive slowly through nice neighborhoods to admire the beautiful homes because people might think you're 'casing the place.'


12. "I want to buy a house in the next couple of years, and I actively avoid looking for properties in a primarily white location. It's just much more likely to be unwelcoming."


"Moving into predominantly white areas as a person of color brings unwanted attention and puts an unnecessary target on your back. Someone will always think you’re suspicious and could call the cops, or they could even try to 'solve the problem' themselves. I have lived in predominantly white areas, but I currently live in a predominantly Black area and feel safer now, knowing that I don’t stand out."


House in a pretty neighborhood

13. "As an Indian who lived in Texas, I’d avoid wearing traditional clothing in public at all costs. Certain parts are better than others, but better to be safe."


14. "As a Latino, I always try to keep my distance when walking near white folks because they start guarding their pockets and purses when they notice me near them. It’s pretty sad honestly. They criminalize me without even knowing me."


15. "As a Black woman in a predominantly white area, I make a point of approaching staff first in stores when I walk in. I ask an innocuous question in a friendly, high-pitched voice, even if I don't need anything. They seem to feel safer around me and do not follow me around when I do that first."


Black person at a counter in a clothing shop

16. "I scan the room wherever I go to see if I am the only person of color. I'm looking for allies who are going to have my back if something goes wrong."

"I also check if there are enough folks who look like me because then I can let down my guard and feel comfortable and welcome. Otherwise, I'm going to have to 'prove myself' the whole time I'm there, being extra approachable and non-threatening (even though there is nothing threatening about me). Smile extra wide and choose my words carefully."


17. "As a Black man who loves hip-hop, I often have to censor the music that I listen to so I won't be judged as a 'thug.'"


18. "I need to have photos of both my girls on hand in case someone thinks I'm kidnapping them. One looks like her dad, who is white, and the other looks like me, Samoan and brown."


"I’m Black and married to a white man; our baby is white. I make sure I have a picture of his birth certificate and that my screen saver is a photo of us together, just in case."

Jazzy Peterson

Black mother holding her white baby

19. "As an Asian American born in the US, I add my English middle name on my resume to help minimize false assumptions from hiring managers that I'm a recent immigrant from Asia who would not fit into the 'culture' of an American company. I believe that if I had a common last name like Smith, I would have experienced more career opportunities in my life."


20. "As a Black person, I don’t wear backpacks to the store or mall. It’s acceptable for certain individuals, but I know I would automatically look suspicious if they see me carrying a backpack."

Megan Evans

21. And finally, "Never speak Arabic at any security checkpoint. The more gentrified you sound when you speak, the better."


"I’m Middle Eastern. Growing up, my mother taught me to be very careful to only use English when we were at the airport or somewhere like a cab or bus – where I’m vulnerable and where people who might hate me for existing could hear us. She would remind me to switch to calling her mom in English. I still follow these rules as an adult. I know people already judge me based on how I look, but she ingrained in me that language can be a trigger for hatred."


Middle Eastern person waiting for a flight

People of color, what other rules do you follow in your everyday life that white people might not know about? Share your experience in the comments below.

Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.