Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why A Dialogue on Race Will Not Result in Solutions

Dr. Henry Gates is a Harvard Professor. He came home from an overseas trip and found his front door was jammed. He went around back, got into his house and pushed the front door partially open. The driver who brought him home then helped him force it all the way open, got back in his car and left. A neighbor saw them doing this and not recognizing Gates as the home owner called 911. The cops came and found Gates inside and confronted him. Gates is black and the driver was black and because of this, here is where the story diverges. One story is about blue stupidity and the other is about racial profiling.

By MELISSA TRUJILLO, Associated Press Writer Melissa Trujillo,
Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 4 mins ago

"BOSTON – Prosecutors dropped a disorderly conduct charge Tuesday against prominent black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., who was arrested at his home near Harvard University after a report of a break-in.

The city of Cambridge issued a statement saying the arrest "was regrettable and unfortunate," and police and Gates agreed that dropping the charge was a just resolution.

"This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department," the statement said."


Dr. Gates and every Black news commentator I've heard so far says this is an example Racial Profiling! Al (any storm for a port) Sharpton inserted himself into the story instantly talking about racial profiling.

Some of the White news commentators "asked" if this was Racial Profiling but most just reported the story and reported that Dr. Gates said it was.

Whites seem to tend to see this as a stupid cop story. Blacks seem to tend to see this as a racial based action.

Let's pretend that Gates wasn't Black and was just an ordinary White Harvard Professor. If two White guys were "kicking in" a door would the busy-body neighbor have called the cops? Yes, those types would have called regardless of what color they were. Would the cop have had the same case of blue stupids. Probably especially if the White guy was belligerent and incensed that he was being challenged and accused of breaking into his own home. Most women would have said to themselves that this was a testosterone problem between the two combatants. Conservative men, black or white would side with the cop, but most men would side with the property owner "harassed" by the cop.

When you add race the problem morphs.
The White Irish cop didn't get super macho till Gates followed him out onto the porch and dissed him in front of other cops. That was a bad decision. Cop code says all Cops have to be even more of a "COP" in front of their buddies.

Was any of this racist? Possibly. How much of it. No one can know. But everyone will have their opinion. Can you "dialog" about this and get anywhere? I don't think so. The best you can hope for is that some individuals on each "side" would understand why the other "side" doesn't see it their way. But, there is no story or profit in that outcome so...

By the way you could dichotomize the story into black profiling or blue profiling.

What do you think?


drlobojo said...

Regarding a discussion of this story, earlier this evening I watched a Black academic Signify Chris Mathews on Hardball by slipping the concept of Signifing past him to prove Chris didn't know what Signifying was. I rest my case!

BB-Idaho said...

Many years back, our locality had a program that the police would check your house peridically when you were on vacation. We signed up and left for two weeks. Got back a couple days early, unloaded and went to sleep. Heard people in the front yard, went to the door and found myself covered by two law officers! They were doing their job and my explanation was no doubt
reinforced by my pajamas. Theirs is a difficult job and I would never even consider arguing or
'dissing'. Perhaps had the professor been more cooperative the whole incident would not have occurred? One also wonders whether the 'break-in' involved two white men, the neighbor would have called? I would have...

drlobojo said...

One of the interesting things about profiling is that profiles change. Consider a White Man and a White Woman in their 60's in big late model Mercury four door sedan driving with their cruise control 3 mph over the speed limit with cars passing them at 10 mph faster, but their tags are out of State and they are on a Drug Corridor. They will be stopped! They fit a "Profile". Really they do. Yes, it was me and My wife with Oklahoma tags driving on an Interstate towards Louisiana. I just figured I was being screwed by a Texas Cop. They looked in the car, took our information, we waited five minutes and they (there were two of them) came back and gave us a warning and we were on our way.
He told me after I had signed the ticket why we were stopped. They were part of a drug interdiction task force.
Were I black, I'll bet you I would have at least been asked to pop my trunk. If I had been asked to do that I would have asked to get out of the car, open it with a key, and stand by as they looked into the trunk. I don't totally trust cops. Two of my nephews have been cops most of their lives, I have heard too much from the horses mouth.
Now Dr. Gates most probably "Signified" on the Irish cop. I mean the man literally wrote the book on doing that back in 1988.


The problem for old men like me and Gates is what was cultural secrets in 1988 are now understood between cultures. Integration has a back side. I'll betcha that the younger White cop knew exactly what Signifying was though he might not have used that term.

Now, tonight, this has even been kicked up to a Presidential news conference.
It is now, for good or ill, an iconic event in American Black Political Mythology.

spear said...

let's get real here, gentlemen. We're talking about greater Bawston. I remember living in D.C. back in the seventies and watching the bussing riots on TV. People in D.C. called Boston, "Up South." I live in Montreal right now, where I see racial profiling a lot. In fact, when they held the Jazz Festival here, both the Stevie Wonder and Judy Mowatt free outdoor concerts,(all the rest being white groups) were held away from the main stage at Place des Arts, for "security reasons," or whatever excuse they make when they see a group of non-white people getting together. Every summer, there's a Dominican Day at the local park and up goes the chain-linked fences and out come the metal detectors, as if a Sunday family cook-out is a downtown hip hop club. Racial profiling has gotten worse here over the years, and I suspect the same goes for places like Cambridge. As far as suggesting that it would have happened if it had been a couple of white guys, I think you're living in denial. A similar incident happened in a suburb here recently-black people putting boxes in their garage, white neighbor calls the cops, the couple is cuffed and thrown in the cruiser, etc...after all, ever since the Cosby Show signed off, the white middle class is fed a steady diet of black "underclass" gangstas on TV. I think it's time for a reality check.

drlobojo said...

Since I posted this three days ago, just about everything I said would happen has happened. Am I prescience? No, it comes from three decades as a professional standing in the middle between Blacks and Whites in the academic world and listening to their biased bullshit from both sides.

Just as soon as you question any conclusion from either side you become a "racist". Then you, rather than they, are the problem.

Thus, for all of you who have tried to be "reasonable" and found yourself pissed on from both sides may I recommend to you membership in the John Spruce Society for radical middle of the road advocates. To join simply reply to this call on this post and join this intrepid group of true Americans. No dues either.