The Dangers Of Pokemon Go As A Person Of Color


I did it.

I told myself that I would not feed into what everyone on my timeline was talking about: Pokemon GO.

As a child, I remember being an avid card collector and being really angry at my mother when she decided to dispose of my collection. It took me a while to recover from that. When I saw Pokemon Go had made headlines, I admit I was curious as to what the hype was all about, so I decided to give it a shot.

I downloaded the game, and within minutes I had already captured my first Pokemon, Squirtle, who was perched on the couch in front of me. Right then and there, I swore Pokemon Go would become my guilty pleasure, as I hid the app on the last page of apps on my iPhone, away from view in case someone saw that I had actually downloaded it.

Within a day of its release, I read articles speaking about how Pokemon Go led a girl to find a dead body while playing Pokemon Go and how someone else had caused a traffic accident while standing on the road.

Make no mistake, Pokemon Go does warn you to always be aware of your surroundings, however, unfortunately that is not enough to keep trouble away.

Today, I learned that Pokemon Go has also lead to a chain of robberies targeting Pokemon Go players as these robbers target Pokemon stations in which players can go to to catch Pokemon, and are often times secluded buildings or locations. Once players go to the location, they become easy targets.

However, the most striking danger that came up as I continued to read about the App, was the danger that People of Color could potentially come across.

Apart from this game distracting players from the real world, as many are already seen roaming neighborhoods with their eyes glued onto their screens, there are many more problems that could arise.

Because Pokemon Go really has no limits as to where these Pokemon are located, this means that people can get themselves in trouble. We have already seen how innocent people, specifically Black men, are targeted and shot to death for really no justifiable reason at all.

Now, with Pokemon Go, players often become subject to being seen as suspicious while roaming around neighborhoods continuously trying to catch Pokemon.

What happens if police are called for suspicious activity? What happens when someone becomes suspicious for roaming around at 2 in the morning and no one has any idea that they are playing a game?

I know that this might seem extremely far-fetched, however it is not far from the truth. Can this app further perpetuate the violence that America is facing? Or is this game only safe for those who are not colored?

Pokemon Go has its pros, as many people are getting out of their homes and moving around, actually exercising, whether it is on purpose or accidentally. However, it does not hurt to be wary of where and when this game is played.

Unfortunately, this could become a hazard for some, more than others.

Omari Akil wrote in his article “Warning: Pokemon Go is a Death Sentence if you are a Black Man” :

“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 gamplay of Pokemon GO, there was only one conclusion. I might die if I keep playing.

The breakdown is simple:

  • There is a statistically disproportionate chance that someone could call the police to investigate me for walking around in circles in the complex.
  • There is a statistically disproportionate chance that I would be approached by law enforcement with fear or aggression, even when no laws have been broken.
  • 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.
  • There is a statistically disproportionate chance that more shots will be fired and I will be dead before any medical assistance is available.”

This is a sad world that we live in. To think that not everyone can enjoy something as simple as a game on a mobile device in fear of being robbed, but for many, the sentence could even be worse.