Friday, January 30, 2015
New 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.