By the age of 11, Cameron Welch had memorised the list of warnings his mum had given to him through the years whenever he was walking out the door: Donâ€™t put your hands in your pockets. Donâ€™t put your hoodie on. Donâ€™t be outside without a shirt on. Check in with your people, even if youâ€™re down the street.
A week ago, the 18-year-old from Houston shared the list in a powerful TikTok video that now has over 10.4 million views. â€œJus some unwritten rules my mom makes me follow as a young black man #blacklivesmatter,â€ Welch wrote in the caption.
The checklist Welch recites is extensive, covering everything from how to behave in a store so a shop clerk wonâ€™t accuse you of stealing to clothes you shouldnâ€™t wear while driving if you donâ€™t want to be pulled over by the police:
â€“ Donâ€™t put your hands in your pockets.
â€“ Donâ€™t put your hoodie on.
â€“ Donâ€™t be outside without a shirt on.
â€“ Check in with your people, even if youâ€™re down the street.
â€“ Donâ€™t be out too late.
â€“ Donâ€™t touch anything youâ€™re not buying.
â€“ Never leave the store without a receipt or a bag, even if itâ€™s just a pack of gum.
â€“ Never make it look like thereâ€™s an altercation between you and someone else.
â€“ Never leave the house without your ID.
â€“ Donâ€™t drive with a wifebeater on.
â€“ Donâ€™t drive with a du-rag on.
â€“ Donâ€™t go out in public with a wifebeater or a du-rag.
â€“ Donâ€™t ride with the music too loud.
â€“ Donâ€™t stare at a Caucasian woman.
â€“ If a cop stops you randomly and starts questioning you, donâ€™t talk back, just compromise.
â€“ If you ever get pulled over, put your hands on the dashboard and ask if you can get your license and registration out.
Welch said that hearing about George Floydâ€™s death at the hands of Minneapolis police last week pushed him to speak out and share what itâ€™s like to live with such a heightened awareness of the police.
â€œIn this moment in our country, it was necessary for me to use my voice, so I put out the video,â€ he told HuffPost. â€œI wanted people to hear and understand the real truth of a Black manâ€™s daily experience.â€
In the comments under the TikTok post, many Black and Latino teens said theyâ€™d memorised similar checklists from years of being lectured by their parents.
Parents raising Black children commented, too.
â€œSaving this video for my future son,â€ one TikTok user told Welch.
â€œHis future shouldnâ€™t be like this,â€ Welch wrote back.
In another recent video, Welch talks about how his friends donâ€™t say â€œIâ€™ll see you laterâ€ after hanging out at each otherâ€™s houses and heading home. Instead, they say, â€œStay safe.â€
â€œEvery Black man has that feeling of, â€™Am I gonna come home today?â€ he says in the clip.
Welch said he hopes the viral videos open more peopleâ€™s eyes to the unfair reality of everyday life for so many Black Americans.
â€œI want people to see that we need change and that no one should have to live like this,â€ he said.