Pokemon Go Teaches Us a Lesson About Racism

A couple of days ago I went to visit a friend, and she told me a story that stuck with me as the single most of-the-moment tale I’ve ever heard. I decided it needed to be told to a wider audience.

You’ve heard about Pokemon Go, right? If not, you have somehow successfully avoided the internet, the local news, and pop-culture as a whole for the past week, and I salute you. Basically, an augmented reality game meant for children has taken over the world, and adults are now wandering around staring at their mobile devices looking for “hidden” cartoons.


So, a friend of a friend was playing this game and found himself in a mostly deserted parking lot. This friend of a friend is white. There were two other men in the parking lot, and they happened to be black. Thanks to racism, the lone guy wondered what these two guys were doing there–were they up to no good? The two men, however, saw this dude walking around staring at his phone in an empty parking lot and recognized him for what he was–a grown ass man playing Pokemon Go. And they pointed him in the direction of the completely imaginary treasure.

The three guys struck up a conversation, which I assume included the word “Pikkachu,” and before they knew it the cops were stopping by. Because, in the world we live in, a white man talking to two black men in a parking lot can only be a drug deal. I’m sure the cops laughed when they realized that what they interrupted was somehow far more disturbing than a simple drug deal, but considering the times we’re living in, the story struck me as emblematic.

Somewhere in here there’s a moral about child-like wonder, and subverting racist expectations… but I’m too busy finding Pikkachu to figure it out.


One thought on “Pokemon Go Teaches Us a Lesson About Racism

  1. allthoughtswork says:

    “what they interrupted was somehow far more disturbing than a simple drug deal”

    You said it. I had no idea what this game was until I started seeing online memes and stories about people getting into trouble with it. How sad is it that a grown-ass adult needs a computer generated image inserted into the outdoors to get their ass out in it? Are people really that dull-witted and easily manipulated? Have they used their imagination and creativity since kindergarten? They may want to start–there’s not a more portable, personalized, and free app on the planet than that.

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