by Mark A. Thompson
One day as my son and I were walking down Lenox Avenue from basketball practice, I noticed two New York police officers on foot eyeballing us. I braced myself to be stopped and frisked. I feared for my son.
When I described this experience on my radio show the other day, a white listener called in to say that I am paranoid. But paranoia is fear of that which does not really exist. At least one in every four African American men is stopped and frisked by the New York Police Department (NYPD).
In 2011, the NYPD made more stops of young African American men than the total population of young African American men in New York. Contraband was found in only 2 percent of those stops, only 6 percent of those stops resulted in arrests, and they were stopped for reasons as ridiculous as “furtive movement.” Were my son and I moving furtively?
So my concern about NYPD officers eyeballing my son and me is justified. Fortunately, nothing happened that time. But this Father’s Day 2012, the first since Trayvon’s sophisticated, modern-day lynching, all of us who are African American dads are faced with the perennial and most difficult question of Black fatherhood: What do we advise our sons to do to prevent being profiled by the police and others?