We all know that green means go, yellow is a warning signal, and red means stop. A traffic light is the way I drew out my Citizen experience map. The way that I interpreted this traffic light analogy is that a red light is crossing the line, like committing acts of racism. I always looked at yellow lights as that gray area, kind of like microaggressions. We sometimes don’t realize those small words and actions are racist and are perpetuating a system of social injustice. The green light is the area where we say things that are okay and not offensive to anyone of any group. In this American lyric, it seems like everyone is running red and yellow lights. We are continuing this cycle of racism because we are uneducated and unaware of the things that we do. In all of Citizen, there is no example that fits in the green light category. We seem to not learn our lesson, and we repeat the same mistakes over and over again. We would think seeing hundreds of innocent people lose their lives and thousands marching would spark a change. But no. It’s like you running red lights over and over again, and despite the amount of tickets you have to pay, you keep doing what you’re doing. No wonder we have made no progress towards equality and justice.
Furthermore, I drew a police car at the bottom of my map. I also drew a stick figure with his hands up and a black hoodie. The black hoodie represents the ongoing stereotype that we envision of an African American. A sweatshirt that we comfortably wear everyday is honestly a death sentence for African Americans. This relates to the quote I pulled from Citizen on page 108. This story relates to the “Stop-and-Frisk” incident in NYC. Although the victim did nothing wrong, him being African American labels him as a criminal. This incident happens to many across the country. Something that is out of their control puts a target on their backs. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s quote from her TedTalk “The Dangers of a Single Story” encapsulates that if we have a closed off image, that we aren’t getting the full story. We need to look past the color of our skin because the lives of millions are at risk. We need to stop running reds and go when it’s green.