We outfitted them in uniforms that we hoped would help them escape profiling in stores and public areas: pastel-colored, non-hooded sweatshirts; cleanly pressed, belted, non-baggy khaki pants; tightly-laced white tennis sneakers; Top-Sider shoes; conservative blazers; rep ties; closely cropped hair; and no sunglasses. Never any sunglasses.

Let’s pause for a  moment.  Be honest — did your parents ever forbid you from wearing sunglasses?  If they had tried, would you have tolerated that?   I didn’t think so.  This certainly sounds excessive.  Why would anyone go to such extremes? Well…..

No overzealous police officer or store owner was going to profile our child as a neighborhood shoplifter. With our son’s flawless diction and deferential demeanor, no neighbor or playdate parent would ever worry that he was casing their home or yard.

Ok, even if it sounds excessive… at least it was borne out of real world experience:

Seeing the unwillingness of taxis to stop for him in our East Side Manhattan neighborhood, and noting how some white women clutched their purses when he walked by or entered an elevator, we came up with even more rules for our three children:

What?  More rules?  You already are dictating dress, diction, and behavior what else could be proscribed?   You want a list?  Ok….

1. Never run while in the view of a police officer or security person unless it is apparent that you are jogging for exercise, because a cynical observer might think you are fleeing a crime or about to assault someone.2. Carry a small tape recorder in the car, and when you are the driver or passenger (even in the back seat) and the vehicle has been stopped by the police, keep your hands high where they can be seen, and maintain a friendly and non-questioning demeanor.

3. Always zip your backpack firmly closed or leave it in the car or with the cashier so that you will not be suspected of shoplifting.

4. Never leave a shop without a receipt, no matter how small the purchase, so that you can’t be accused unfairly of theft.

5. If going separate ways after a get-together with friends and you are using taxis, ask your white friend to hail your cab first, so that you will not be left stranded without transportation.

6. When unsure about the proper attire for a play date or party, err on the side of being more formal in your clothing selection.

7. Do not go for pleasure walks in any residential neighborhood after sundown, and never carry any dark-colored or metallic object that could be mistaken as a weapon, even a non-illuminated flashlight.

8. If you must wear a T-shirt to an outdoor play event or on a public street, it should have the name of a respected and recognizable school emblazoned on its front.

9. When entering a small store of any type, immediately make friendly eye contact with the shopkeeper or cashier, smile, and say “good morning” or “good afternoon.”

These are just a few of the humbling rules that my wife and I have enforced to keep our children safer while living integrated lives.

What?  There’s MORE?!?!  Maybe someone is being just a little bit overprotective here?  After all, you live on the Upper East Side of New York.Sadly, the answer is a resounding — NO.

I knew the day would come, but I didn’t know how it would happen, where I would be, or how I would respond. It is the moment that every black parent fears: the day their child is called a nigger.

Now, we all know . . .