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Black boy being harassed outside Target for selling candy.

Selling Candy While Black in America Will Get You Harassed by Old White Women

For Black America, Ordinary Activities — Like Selling Candy — is A Problem for Some People

New-millennium America is making it crystal clear — over and over and over again — that doing the most mundane, harmless and ordinary things in a Black body is still risky, evidences “criminality,” reads “offense” and can get Black people of any age, size or sex stopped, frisked, beaten, chased, hounded, harassed, condemned, jailed or — at the end of it all — killed.

There is the obvious and most famous one: the very real fear of driving while Black.

Then there are other, more peculiar activities that appear to warrant concern and are viewed as problems for the state.

Shopping in a department store while Black in America is a problem.

Walking home with snacks while Black in America is a problem.

Playing with a toy gun in while Black in America is a problem.

Expressing joy while Black in America is a problem.

Knocking on a stranger’s door and asking for help while Black in America is a problem.

Graduating valedictorian while Black in America is a problem.

And, apparently, selling candy while Black in America comes with its own set of challenges.

In California, a Black girl-child selling candy outside a Target is approached by an old white woman. Watch what happens.


Looking at the video above, you might get the impression that the American tradition of entrepreneurialism or even marketing girl scout cookies never existed.

The person who posted the video, Andy Lizarraga, said, “Outside of Target, someone was selling candy. As my mom and i were walking away, a lady went up to this person and told them she wanted to see their license to sell. She started harassing him to the point where he started to cry.”

Fortunately, several others stepped in. One bought $80 worth of candy from the black kid.

The whole encounter is emblematic of the ever-present contrast of forces that exist just beneath the surface of a precarious peace on matters of racial progress in America.

Whenever country relaxes a vigilant stance against anti-Black racism, the old guard — smelling of Jim Crow — creeps out and acts out.

Then, just as quickly, or so we hope, in steps the new guard to set the country back on course.


Antwan is an educator, cultural critic, actor, and writer for Wear Your Voice Mag (WYV), where he focuses on the dynamics of class, race, gender, politics, and pop culture. Prior to joining the team at WYV, he was an adjunct professor in the African American Studies Department at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia, where he taught African American Literature. He has traveled the U.S. and U.K. showcasing a fifty-five minute, one-person play titled Whitewash, which focuses on the state of black men in the post-civil rights era. Antwan received his B.A. in English and Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and M.A. in African American Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and NAACP theater nominee.

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