Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Post Racial America

Not really.

EDITED TO ADD: Look at the photo, what could have set the cop off? Must have been that beard, never trust a guy with a goatee.

Recognize the dude in the photo? I do. Before reading the story I was at a loss for his name, but I recognized him.... from things like this:

I might not have known his buddies call him Skip, but I would have remembered him interviewing Spike Lee, being on CNN, I would have just thought, "Hey, it is that intellectual I always see talking about race."

I sure wouldn't have thought "My God, he is breaking into that nice house".

Read the story.

Second best line of the story: "Being a black man is often Kafkaesque"

Best line is a Malcolm X quote, you find that one yourself.

The story basically goes like this. Terrifying black man (read: almost 60, nationally known Harvard academic carrying a cane) attempts to enter house in nice (white) suburban (white) Massachusetts (really white) neighbourhood.

Neighbour (frightened honky) calls cops. Cops show up.

This is where the reports differ. Skip says this:

-- Door got jammed. Gates and his driver go in back door, turn off alarm, and force the front door open.

-- Call the campus housing folks, tell them to fix the damn door.

-- Cops show up.

-- Gates asks, "Can I help you", shows ID and everything, in HIS OWN HOUSE.

-- Officer refuses to give him a badge number or a name.

At that point, Prof Gates may have got a little hot... according to the police report, he said.

"A visibly upset Gates responded to the officer’s assertion that he was responding to a report of a break-in with, “Why, because I’m a black man in America?’’

“Gates then turned to me and told me that I had no idea who I was ‘messing’ with and that I had not heard the last of it,’’ the report said. “While I was led to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence, I was quite surprised and confused with the behavior he exhibited toward me.

Gates was eventually arrested for shouting at the officer.

Not for a B&E on his own house, but for having the teremity to question the officer who wouldn't even give him his badge number, and if you are dealing with the police, get a badge number and a name, otherwise, they are very accomplished at closing ranks.

I would have shouted.... real loud and real long. Probably would have swore, made some comments about the level of training and academic capability of city police officers, and I still wouldn't have been arrested.

OK, he did work in some choice material,

When the officer repeatedly told Gates he would speak with him outside, the normally mild-mannered professor shouted, “Ya, I’ll speak with your mama outside,’’ according to the report.

Since when is it a crime to be rude? Or to makes remarks about someone's mama? Not very dignified, but hardly arrest worthy.