“…The issue is that we have a black man who is a racist.” – Joe
A visitor to my blog has the opinion of the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. arrest that reflects the thinking of many in the dominant community of America. My visitor believes that the real issue between Officer James Crowley and Mr. Gates is not the fact that we see an American citizen being pulled off of his own property for being angry. The real problem for my visitor is that Mr. Gates is a racist. What is the sure fire sign that Mr. Gates is a racist? The problem is the fact that Mr. Gates made a comment to Mr. Crowley that the only reason he was being harassed was because a white woman called the police on him. The fact that we may have a situation where a black man makes the assumption that a white woman called the police is the real issue in this sad scenario.
Black people run the gamut of humanity just like anyone else. There are black people who are jerks just like there are white people who are jerks. There are black people who are prejudice just as there are white people who are prejudice. Anybody who knows anything about human nature should know that prejudice is not a human trait reserved only for white people. In America, we don’t arrest people for being prejudice. In fact, Americas courts usually bend over backwards to protect people’s right to freedom of speech. As long as people’s freedom of expression don’t infringe on the rights of others we have demonstrated time and time again a tolerance for people’s expression of anger.
If the occasional klan rally is any indication, America has a healthy tolerance for blatant racist. When white people want a high profile public forum and a megaphone to express and promote their hate of minorities, people from the gay and lesbian community, and people of differing religions and cultures, we tolerate this special form of racism and recognize people’s right to it. We condone this behavior by allowing racists to parade our streets and stand on public places to give their hate rallies.
However, the moment some of us think that a black man might be racist then we have a real issue. Obviously some of us feel that black people don’t have the right to any form of hate. When we see the black man exercising his right to freedom of expression, we suddenly have an issue. We applaud the police clamping down on this man who obviously doesn’t know his place in our social makeup. This form of discrimination is just as insidious as its cross burning counterpart. Freedom of expression is just another one of those separate but unequal gaps in our community that falls along racial lines.
An assumption was made that Mr. Gates is racist because he assumed that it was a white woman who called the police about a potential crime. However, Mr. Gates didn’t just pull a white woman out his ass. In the police report filed by Mr. Crowley, it was stated that just as Mr. Crowley was going to the front door of Mr. Gates’ house, he stopped to speak with a white woman who was holding a cell phone in her hand. The police report said that Mr. Gates was looking out the window while Mr. Crowley was talking to the white woman. It would be a reasonable assumption that if Mr. Gates saw the white woman talking to the police officer that she would have been the one calling the police on Mr. Gates. That’s not racism. That’s observation and deduction. It is possible that the white woman was not the one that initially called the police. Even a reasonable assumption can be wrong.
Some people want to label Mr. Gates a racist because they believed he was a black man who had simply assumed that it was a white woman who called the police without getting any facts. The black man making racial assumptions was the only real issue in this entire ordeal. The fact that Mr. Gates made an assumption that it was a woman who called the police doesn’t make him a sexist. The only assumption that was wrong was the assumption of whiteness.
If it would have been considered racist that the black Mr. Gates only assumed it was a white person who called the fuzz, is it racist for people to assume that the black Mr. Gates had assumed that the caller was white? After all, wouldn’t one assumption of color be just as racist as the other? Would it not be fair to say that if some of us were willing to make the primary issue in this ordeal the racism of a black man based on an assumption that he jumped the gun without all the facts, then wouldn’t the fact that he did have his facts in order dispel that assumption of his racism? Not only should it absolve him of being a racist, it should call into question the racism of some people who were only too ready to point an accusing finger of racism at a black man being arrested from his own home.