I just found the phrase

driving while black (DWB).

I know what this means. But I cant connect the meanings of the words with the phrase meaning. As I know, driving is meaning that driving. And while means that ~ing. And black means people.

How to connect the real meaning from DWB?

  • "The invention of the fictitious offense "Driving While Black" captures the popular perception that police officers target African-Americans for traffic stops and are more likely to search an African-American’s vehicle." -- Cornell University website. See also Wikipedia. Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 1:39
  • For a more grammatical answer, if you want the gerund there, then the phrase "Driving While Black" omits a word for the sake of conciseness: "being." "Driving While Black" is equivalent to "Driving While Being Black." Likewise, you may hear "Driving While Drunk" every now and again. Again, it's equivalent to "Driving While Being Drunk." Though, I don't think the word "being" is formally necessary, since the verb can be borrowed from the absent clause (for example, "You are driving while drunk" is still grammatically correct because the verb "are" distributes over "driving" and "drunk"). Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 2:23
  • We are much more likely to see and hear the phrase Driving drunk than the version containing while. Is while being absent here? Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 2:34

1 Answer 1


This is an ironic reference to a traffic offense: motorists driving erratically may be stopped by the police and tested for sobriety; if there is evidence that the motorist has been drinking alcohol he may be charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).

African-Americans complain of police harassment: they maintain they are often stopped by police for no reason except their skin color, on the assumption that people of color are likely to be up to no good. In effect, they say, they are detained for Driving While Black.

  • 1
    It is not that Black Folk in the United States are complaining in growing numbers about police use of traffic stops as a vector for institutional racism. Rather, it is that the mainstream media are now reporting those complaints. The term Driving While Black has been common in the Black dialect for more than fifty years. I have heard it with some frequency since the late 1960's. Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 2:10
  • @P.E.Dant Quite so; I expressed myself clumsily. Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 10:36

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