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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Henry Louis Gates

That famous national conversation on race was recently advance by the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Black, Harvard Professor and expert on all things Black. He teaches two courses at Harvard, African and African American Studies 10 (for undergraduates) and a graduate seminar African and African American Studies 301.
He called the policeman who was checking out to see if he was a burglar a racist.
Contributing to the conversation was Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley who – in trying to determine if Gates was who he said he was, arrested Gates for disorderly conduct.
And the third contributor was Barack Obama who identified himself as a friend of Gates and called the Cambridge Police Department “stupid.”

Let’s review what happened.

(1) Mr. Gates returned from a trip and had trouble getting into his home.
(2) Failing to enter through the front door, despite repeated tries, he enter via the back door.
(3) A person near the Gates home notices the actions and – believing that someone may be attempting a break-in calls the police.
(4) Sergeant Crowley responds.
(5) Words were exchanged between Mr. Gates and Crowley.
(6) Mr. Gates is arrested on the charge of disorderly conduct.
(7) Mr. Gates is released and charges have been withdrawn.

It should be noted that the early headlines were all about the prominent Harvard Professor being hustled by the racist cop. The cop decided that he was not going to be the designated patsy and fought back. The focus is changing, Mr. Gates is in at his home in Martha's Vinyard - recuperating - and Mr. Obama is trying to walk his comments back. The Cambridge police union is asking for apologies from Mr. Gates and Mr. Obama.

The incident brings to mind an experience I had. I was asleep late at night when I responded to a loud knock at my front door. Going downstairs I found a police officer who asked if I were the resident and asked for some identification. I was shocked and surprised and asked what the problem was. We had recently moved into our home and a light in the back yard had begun flickering intermittently. A neighbor called the police thinking that we were trying to signal that we were in distress. The incident made me thankful that we had neighbors that were concerned enough to call the police if they thought that there was a problem.

Henry Louis Gates had a different view of police. This may be because he is a Professional Black. Mr. Gates doesn’t teach economics or physics or chemistry … he teaches BLACK. For Mr. Gates, the police are THE MAN. The agents of oppression. The police will always be Bull Connor in Mr. Gates mind. And when Sergeant Crowley rang his front door bell, Sgt. Crowley was not there to protect his property, he was there to oppress the black man, and Mr. Gates was not going to put up with it. He was a Harvard professor, a millionaire with a house in Cambridge and one Martha’s Vineyard. No white cracker was going to hassle Henry Louis Gates, PhD.
For the record, the Mayor of Cambridge has apologized to Mr. Gates, the Governnor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, has expressed his outrage and the President of the United States called what the Cambridge did police stupid.

The race card is now overdrawn.

An esteemed professor in our most famous university, living in a city with a black mayor, in a state with a black governor, in a country with a black president, cannot, without embarrassment, play this card anymore

The Officer Didn’t Stereotype Henry Louis Gates — Henry Louis Gates Stereotyped the Officer

1 comment:

thisishabitforming said...

I want to know why the outcry by Obama over his friend's arrest, yet not a word about the murder of one of the Commander in Chief's soldiers and the wounding of another a few weeks back by a Black man who converted to Islam in prison and felt that the White soldiers were fair game.