I remember when I was growing up, New York was a rough-and-tumble place where attitudes of racial animosity ran parallel to the perceptions of black-on-white crime. And despite a robust, national civil rights movement, there were feelings that blacks were almost exclusively responsible for gangs, prostitution and heroin addiction.
Back in the ’60s and ’70s, believe it or not, as a young black man I too had concerns about crime being perpetrated upon me. I recall how to cross Central Park, my buddies and I would sprint top speed from Central Park West to the Fifth Avenue on the East Side without stopping. We knew that would not only get us across unmolested, but the sight of a two or three black men running through the park would make anybody steer clear.
During that time it was not a question of race, but that anybody entering the park alone at night stood a good chance of getting his or her ass kicked.