Paul L. Caron

Friday, January 30, 2015

Stephen Carter: My Son Was Stopped by Police For Being Black at Yale

Yale University LogoNew Haven Register op-ed:  Another Son Stopped for Being Black at Yale, by Stephen Carter (Yale):

The columnist Charles M. Blow of the New York Times has sparked debate this week by his disclosure that his son, a student at Yale College, was stopped at gunpoint by a Yale police officer who said he resembled a robbery suspect.

I’d like to take a moment to add my small coda of personal outrage, as the father of an African-American son ... who was also harassed by the Yale police while a student at Yale College. What happened to our son wasn’t as serious as what happened to Blow’s — no gun was pointed his way — but the echoes are painful nevertheless. ...

Critics of Blow’s tale have asked how he knows race was involved, or why he didn’t mention that the officer who stopped his son is black, or whether he was asserting in his column that his son should not have been stopped because he’s the educated son of professional parents. This sort of nitpicking misses the larger point. Young black men remain objects of suspicion. That’s the simple fact of the matter. Argue if you like about the reasons, but there’s no escaping the underlying reality.

I won’t deny that policing is more art than science, and that those who do that difficult work often don’t get the credit and support that they deserve. But police officers are trapped in the same web of racial history and complexity as everyone else, and as long as the web survives, these incidents will continue to arise.

As a parent you do what you can to teach and train, you provide an education, you launch your children on what you hope will be a successful and ethical life. But the moments of interaction between black men and the police remain always fraught, and no demonstrations or television specials or reassurances from college administrators are going to change that any time soon.

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The answer is quite simple. The black community needs to come down like a ton of bricks on its crime-prone, violence-prone young black males. And for the most part, that means it needs to level its guns at biological fathers who aren't real fathers.

That's the problem. That's the solution. White communities with similar pathologies have similar problems. And it isn't racism, as that black cop in this case demonstrates. Good sense is never racist.

I might add that the very group that yelps so loudly over so called profiling—liberal Democrats—is precisely the group that's the most zealous at not just profiling but demonizing innocent, respectable law-abiding religious people. Baptists, for instance, for their views about homosexuality or Catholics about abortion. Imagine attacking someone for opposing legalized abortion, say of children with Downs syndrome. You've got to be really sick to do that, really sick.

Words cannot describe the contempt I feel for such phonies and hypocrites. Nor am I impressed by others who join their little self-righteous chorus.

Religious demonization in this country by liberal politicians and the media is at least 100 times as bad as any racial stereotyping by cops. Having the wrong religious views is now held as reason to exclude someone from public office much as race once was. Even the party that's playing this nasty game is the same—the Democrats.

That is why I have no interest in listening to remarks by someone writing an article criticizing the latter unless they can show me 100 articles in which that criticize that rampant religious bigotry. Those who aren't attacking a far greater evil have no right to criticize a lesser.

--Michael W. Perry, co-author with Albion Tourgee of Lily's Ride: Rescuing her Father from the Ku Klux Klan

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Jan 30, 2015 7:15:55 AM

While it's painful to be a young, law abiding black man stopped by police, as noted above the reality is simple.

Young black males commit a massively disproportionate amount of crimes, especially violent ones, and especially in the communities where profiling occurs. It's called smart police work. Stopping 70 year old black women wouldn't make much sense.

Whatever the socioeconomic reasons are behind this, the facts are what they are, and until the numbers drop to near parity with other demographic groups, heightened attention to young black males is justified, just as it it towards men from Islamic nations in terrorism issues.

Posted by: Todd | Jan 30, 2015 10:32:42 AM

Do they actually commit more crimes, or are they simply arrested for more crimes? Does someone actually have statistics that prove the former? It certainly doesn't explain why Yale freshman are being stopped at gunpoint.

Posted by: mike livingston | Jan 31, 2015 5:45:14 AM