This Web site Lists the Unofficial ‘Guidelines’ Black Individuals Typically Really feel Obligated to Comply with
As a child, Alex Pierce was not allowed to play with toy guns or anything like that. Even nerf guns were banned.
“My mother was very strict,” recalls Pierce, associate creative director at Hawkeye, a Dallas-based agency. “I was so upset about it at the time. As an adult, I understood what she was doing. “
Pierce is one of several creators behind Unwritten Rules, an online encyclopedia of 12 ways racism manifests itself in black lives, often forcing them to adhere to an unspoken code of conduct.
“Black lives are controlled by unwritten rules,” the website says. Rule No. 1? Do not play with toy guns. Others are “Never Go Out of the House Without ID”, “Always Have a Receipt and Bag when Leaving a Store”, and “You Don’t Have a Name That Is Too Black”.
Each rule has a brief explanation that summarizes how it typically affects blacks and links to real-life examples. All 12 are paired with links that direct visitors to articles, petitions, podcasts, and other ways to learn more or take action.
Find an outlet
According to Pierce, the project came about last year after police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Pierce called it a “turning point” for him.
“Nobody deserves to die like this,” he said. “It was very painful.”
Shortly thereafter, Pierce spoke to his creative director, team members and friends about what they could do to express their frustration and “find a way to really represent how we felt”.
As they brainstormed, they kept returning to the Green Book, a travel guide published between the 1930s and 1960s that listed which hotels, restaurants and businesses would welcome blacks.
The Green Book inspired her to create her own guide that outlines the many unofficial – but very real – rules that black individuals consider every day as they live their lives.
“Personally, I live my whole life according to certain rules that my mother and family anchored in me at a young age,” he said. “These are our rules, and they are not necessarily formalized. It’s not that there is a black manual that you get when you are born. “
Provision of resources
Pierce sees himself as a “very pragmatic man”. So he wanted the project to point out the problem and give people ways to “delete” the rules above.
“I don’t just want to tell people how I feel about something,” he said. “I want to help correct the behavior. Generating empathy was one of the goals, but we also wanted to go around the corner and make sure we ask the person to do something about it. “
For this reason, each rule listed on the website contains different ways in which visitors can learn or help themselves. For example, rule # 2 – “Make Sure Your Hair Always Looks Professional” – contains links to articles, books, and podcasts about black hair and its history of stigma.
Additionally, each rule directs visitors to different petitions, charities, and resources related to the topic in question. Rule # 2 gives people dozens of options, including a petition aimed at “ending hair discrimination against blacks across the country”.
The website also has a Shared Stories section where blacks have the option to submit an anonymous story highlighting a rule that they were “wrongly asked to live by”. Selected stories will be published on the Unwritten Rules website, on Instagram and in an upcoming book.