http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2016/07/12/playing-pokemon-go-while-black/86989554/ SAN FRANCISCO — Omari Akil says he couldn't wait to play Pokémon Go — until he went outside for 20 minutes. Akil, a writer and business systems analyst from Chapel Hill, N.C., spent five minutes enjoying the game, including one minute "trying to look as pleasant and nonthreatening as possible as I walked by a somewhat visibly disturbed white woman on her way to the bus stop." "I spent the other 14 minutes being distracted from the game by thoughts of the countless Black Men who have had the police called on them because they looked 'suspicious' or wondering what a second amendment exercising individual might do if I walked past their window a third or fourth time in search of a Jigglypuff," Akil wrote in a piece he published on Medium. "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 game play of Pokémon Go, there was only one conclusion. I might die if I keep playing." USA TODAY 5 things we learned from 'Pokémon Go' For the most part, Pokémon Go is all fun and games. Yet for some African Americans, especially African-American men, their enjoyment is undercut by fears they might arouse suspicion with potentially lethal consequences. The smartphone game sends people out in the world to capture monsters from the Japanese cartoon franchise. It landed as the nation was reeling from the police shooting deaths of two African Americans and the deaths of five police officers gunned down in Dallas. Wrote Akil: "Let's just go ahead and add Pokémon Go to the extremely long list of things white people can do without fear of being killed, while Black people have to realistically be wary." Malik Bennett, 18, who will be a college freshman this fall, says he's been playing Pokémon since he was in diapers. "There has not been a two-week span that I haven't touched a Pokémon game," Bennett, of West Columbia, S.C., says. Since Pokémon Go was released, "I have been playing the game a lot," he says. But, at the urging of his older brother and parents, Bennett makes sure he's always aware of his surroundings. With an ear bud in one ear and his phone in his right hand or pocket, he waits for notifications to pop up before turning his attention to his phone screen. Anthony Battey says he knows other Pokémon Go players wander the San Francisco streets at all hours hunting for Pokémon. But he's not one of them. "I was out the other night and I saw a lot of cops and I thought, ‘You know what? Let me go' " home, Battey, 25, toldthe San Francisco Chronicle. USA TODAY Westboro Baptist Church recruits Jigglypuff, a Pokémon, against LGBT community on Pokémon Go A Tumblr post offers tips on how to play Pokémon while black. Among them: Walk a dog (on a cloth leash, not a chain), wear glasses, avoid white neighborhoods or bring a non-black friend. "Sharing because there is a double standard. Black people shouldn’t have to take precautions to play a game, especially when we’ve already got stories of white people running into traffic and disrupting businesses to catch their Pokémon," the Tumblr post reads. Research by USA TODAY, which tracked arrests reported to the federal government in 2011 and 2012, found that in at least 70 police departments from Connecticut to California, black people were arrested at a rate 10 times higher than other people. Ronnie Dunn, associate professor of urban studies at Cleveland State University, says he understands the apprehension given "the seeming inability for African Americans to move freely about public space unimpeded by law enforcement." "There is the potential for blacks, males in particular, to be racially profiled, as they search out game figures minimally aware of the areas and public spaces the game might lead them to," Dunn says. "Their lack of awareness of their surroundings can also heighten the potential risk" as was the case in the police shooting death of John Crawford III in an Ohio Walmart store in 2014. Despite running greater risks, some say they won't stop playing Pokémon Go. USA TODAY The stunning amount of time we're spending playing 'Pokémon Go' Tarik Hamilton, a 24-year-old Web developer from St. Petersburg, Fla., grew up on Pokémon and could not wait to take to the streets in search of them. In the process, he has gotten plenty of fresh air and exercise. Hamilton says he takes precautions so that his erratic behavior doesn't make him look suspicious. He doesn't trespass on private property. He does not repeatedly retrace his steps. He does not loiter in one spot for too long. "I know there are certain risks based on the current political climate," Hamilton says. "It's no different than life before Pokémon when I would go out for a walk with my phone." USA TODAY With 'Pokémon Go,' augmented reality is having its moment What's changed is that many people, including police officers, are playing the highly social game. And, in one instance, that led to a rare moment of unity. On the same evening Black Lives Matter protests were taking place, Bennett says he played Pokémon with his girlfriend and her brother, who are both white, in their Columbia, S.C., neighborhood, which has more white residents and is more affluent than his own. At about 10 p.m., they headed to a nearby church for a "gym" battle. Pokémon gyms are places where players who reach a certain level in the game go to train their Pokémon characters. A cop drove by them and pulled into the church parking lot. His girlfriend offered to turn around but Bennett, while apprehensive, said no. "We are just playing Pokémon," he said. In the church parking lot, Bennett started the gym battle on his phone's Pokémon Go app. Then he heard the cop on his loudspeaker: "Team Valor has already taken this gym." Bennett cautiously approached the police car to inform the officer they were all on the same team. The cop fist-bumped Bennett and then pointed out some rare Pokémon lurking in the area. "We were just there for the same reason," Bennett says. "I can see the game helping out because it's simple and people have the same goals. People want to go out, catch Pokémon and they want to be with their friends.