It's about our community and our spirituality!

Another Case Of Racism Subtle Enough To Warrant Study


It has been said that President Barack Obama threw his friend, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., under the proverbial bus for taking a more neutral stance in the controversy surrounding Mr. Gates’ arrest.  The Cambridge police officer who arrested Mr. Gates, James Crowley, says he did nothing wrong when he arrested Mr. Gates and refuses to back down.  But the most interesting thing is that his stance is very similar to Mr. Gates’ claim that he did nothing wrong and had no reason to back down either.  The only difference is that Mr. Gates went to jail for his defiance.  Mr. Crowley was the one who took him there.

Initially, Mr. Obama supported his friend and referred to the Cambridge police department as acting stupidly.  However, in a sure fire sign that he regretted his choice of words, Mr. Obama is not actively working to mediate a truce between Mr. Crowley and Mr. Gates.  I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised to see Mr. Obama respond to the incident with such strong support for a fellow black man.  Mr. Obama has always opted for a more neutral stance in matters of race despite the outrage.  If a klan member was caught red handed stringing a black man up a tree, Mr. Obama gives me the impression that he would look to hear both sides of the story before making a balanced choice that absolves either side of outright wrong and equally distributes the questionable decision making process to both parties.  The fact that only the black man would wind up dead is not a factor.  So to see Mr. Obama make an unequivocal judgment of calling the police’s behavior stupid was truly a rare moment.

And indeed it was.  The next day Mr. Obama was back peddling faster than Michael Phelps could back stroke.  The President amended his initial statement to say that mistakes were made on both sides and both Mr. Crowley and Mr. Gates could have handled this matter a lot differently saving us all a great deal of controversy.  Way to support your friend Mr. Obama.  In this respect, Mr. Obama looks like he would be willing to sacrifice Mr. Gates as if he was a virgin headed to the volcano of blameless ambiguity.  His latest stance on this issue is very similar to his blameless stance in nearly each and every issue of race that comes Mr. Obama’s way.  To date, Mr. Obama has artfully dodged issues of race.  But when he saw his friend the esteemed Mr. Gates doing the perp walk from his own home, Mr. Obama stumbled and called stupid what stupid does.

There are two sides to every story.  And honestly I could not care any less to uncover the minutia over this incident.  The police were called to Mr. Gates’ house on suspicion of a burglary in progress.  There was no burglary.  The police found no crime committed.  But what they did find was an angry black man who is accused of using offensive words at a police officer.  What words were used doesn’t really matter.  Unless a credible threat was made to the community, there was no reason for the arrest of Mr. Gates.  Mr. Crowley says there were unpleasant references to his mother.  In Mr. Crowley’s judgment that was enough to ask Mr. Gates to step outside so he could justify Mr. Gates apprehension as a public threat.

Many people may look at this and want to reserve comment until each and every fact is uncovered in order to appear fair and impartial.  I’m sure there are other instances where we happily dismiss the obligatory stab at fairness and impartiality in order to make a quick opinion based on cursory specifics.  If a black man gets arrested we don’t hesitate to know facts before we label him as nothing more than another angry black man waiting for an opportunity to be a nuisance to the community.  Mr. Crowley didn’t hesitate to get the facts before he caved to his bruised ego and manipulated Mr. Gates into a situation that could lead to a barely lawful, nevertheless stupidly wrong, arrest.  But until some of us get all the facts we’d rather stay on the sidelines or on the middle of the fence and call the actions of both sides questionable until we know all the facts.

As a people, we no longer exercise common sense when viewing issues that affect our community.  We want to give people who are a menace to the black community the benefit of a doubt until it is crystal clear and fully unanimous that a wrong has been committed.  We are willing to keep our guns of condemnation holstered until the shadows of doubts blend into the darkness of the midnight of racial disparity.  Black kids get evicted out of a predominantly white private pool and we want to reserve judgment until we know all the facts.  But let a police officer shoot or arrest a black man without getting all the facts and we have to get all the facts before we can determine if the arrest is justified or not.  If we have to act with such reserve then it is only reasonable that we hold our police to the same standard.  That way, maybe somebody like Mr. Crowley will think things through more thoroughly before abusing his authority to defend his mother.

All too often we are willing to give the police the benefit of doubt.  We as a society have yet to offer black people the same luxury.  We are quick to dismiss a black man as nothing more than an angry miscreant that needs to be reigned in by law enforcement.  Mr. Crowley is not the racist that is the problem in this issue.  The real problem is our society that will give a cop the benefit of a doubt for arresting a black man out of his own house, while assuming that a nearly sixty year old Harvard professor, who just so happens to be a distinguished scholar and a member of the black community, is a menace to society.  The problem is our never ending tolerance for racial disparity.  Even the President isn’t immune to the affects of our penchant for racial disparity.

Saturday, July 25, 2009 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts


  1. I agree with your views on this subject. But as I asked on another post yesterday, how do we jump from what could possibly be a poor decision by a cop with a chip on his shoulder to playing the race card?

    Comment by Joe | Sunday, July 26, 2009 | Reply

  2. All too often, people with darker skins are treated more severely by law enforcement; this has been documented time and time again.

    If pointing that out is “playing the race card”, then get used to it.

    Comment by blueollie | Sunday, July 26, 2009 | Reply

  3. That MAY be so, but do you know for a fact that was the case here? Just as Jesse Jackson cried racism in the Alsip, IL cemetary Carolyn Towns was named as the mastermind. Let’s get our facts straight before we jump to conclusions. It maked you look foolish.

    Comment by Joe | Sunday, July 26, 2009 | Reply

  4. Joe,

    I actually read an article that had excerpts from Mr. Crowley’s report from that night. I found this article on the TIME Magazine website while looking for news and commentary about what was happening on this event. There is an undeniable history of racial discrimination in this country that remains rampant and obvious.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Sunday, July 26, 2009 | Reply

  5. I’m not disputing that there is a history of racial discrimination in this country. My point is that there is no evidence that Mr Crowley is a racist. We cannot label individuals because of the actions of others.

    Comment by Joe | Monday, July 27, 2009 | Reply

  6. I enjoyed reading your site for a half-hour or so today. Good stuff.

    As the white stepdaughter of a white cop, I am eternally surprised that anyone is surprised or ignorant that cops are racist. My stepfather would pull over all mexicans (illegal immigrants, in his mind), blacks (drug dealers), gays (all drug addicted HIV carriers) and asians (also illegal immigrants and amusingly poor English-speakers), and look for evidence to back up his prejudices. His coworkers did the same things. And then they’d come home and brag about it. It was heartbreaking to hear and I left home as soon as I could. I’m still scared of cops today.

    Maybe there are a few cops that aren’t — or not as bad as the rest — but most of them are kicked out of the force or shunned. I don’t know when the media will call BS on “Blacks are (fill in the blank), but I’m not a racist, and you’re playing the Race Card. I’m color-blind, you see.”

    Don’t backpedal, Obama. You promised to tell the truth to America, even if it wasn’t pretty. This is the ugly side that White America doesn’t want to own up to.

    As my stepdad said, most cops, if they didn’t become cops, they’d become criminals. He was right about that to a point. The badge allows them to get away with things that criminals can’t pull off. And they know it.

    Comment by Amy A. | Monday, July 27, 2009 | Reply

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