The Sunday Edition

Walking While Black

Garnette Cadogan describes how even the simple act of walking is complicated by a different set of rules for black men.
People walk by a New York Police Department (NYPD) outpost in Times Square on August 12, 2013 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Garnette Cadogan is a writer who grew up in Kingston, Jamaica. When he moved to New York City, he was looking forward to taking long rambles, getting to know his new home. 

But the anticipation soon turned to apprehension — and to fear.

On one occasion, as he was running to meet some friends, he was punched by a white man who feared he was a mugger. On another occasion, he was thrown against a police car, handcuffed and questioned at gunpoint by police. There had been an assault nearby and Garnette, like the suspect, is black.

Garnette Cadogan reads an excerpt from his essay, "Walking While Black."

Some days, when I am fed up with being considered a troublemaker upon sight, I joke that the last time a cop was happy to see a black male walking was when that male was a baby taking his first steps. On many walks, I ask white friends to accompany me, just to avoid being treated like a threat.- Garnette Cadogan

Click the button above to hear Garnette Cadogan's essay.

Garnette Cadogan (Anastasia Taylor-Lind)


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.