Mr. Gates, a Harvard man 58 years old with 50 honorary degrees arrested in his own home for? Well, it's tough to say really. Imagine you come home to find your front door jammed. You and your driver attempt to enter to no avail. Next, you go around to your back door and use your key to enter your home. The police arrive on a tip that your house is being burgled. You merely explain that this is your home and that all is well here officer. The cop doesn't buy it and wants to haul you in. What do you do? You say 'hell no'. You show your I.D. You remind the officer that this is not Nazi Germany and they are not the Gestopo. And remember you are 58 years old with graying hair. Not fair is it? This is not your america, you have rights. Add this; you are a distinguished Harvard proffesor. This is madness. Alright, now add that you are black.
This changes everything. It shouldn't but it does. The president is black, so what! Police racial profile, always have and we're dealing with it. The sad part is that the cop who dealt with Dr. Gates did his job until a certain point. Once I.D. was presented and home ownership was established the cop became stupid. Stupid and then let his inner racism show.
Black man seen breaking into home. Profile: black. Once on the scene said black man is older. Black man is well dressed. Black man is well spoken although upset, understandably. Why didn't the cop find something wrong with the profile? Is he not well trained? Is he racist? Does he lacked the ability to think outside the box? (although this incident is well within the box). Perhaps a combination of all three.
Henry Louis Gates was ultimately charge with disorderly conduct. Every one us would have reacted the same way when an officer is in your home ordering you to leave your home when no REAL charges are brought and your I.D. (both driver's license and Harvard faculty I.D.) is not to be believed. Many newspapers said that Gates became angry, agitated, beligerent and so on. And then they let these phrases hang so that we might feel that in some way Gates had it coming. Or that we could understand the cop's perspective. This thing has racism all over it and shame on the media. The cop is in possession of a small brain and large ego. I don't fault people for lack of education but when they carry a gun and a badge and make game time decisions as fucking stupid and racist as the choices this officer made I do fault the man, and the system and the media.
I am so glad the incident did not happen to me because once I have identifiend myself in my own home and proven ownership of my home which I pay a mortgage on and you don't believe me, then I begin to question the legitimacy of your badge and your identification. And at this point I would have defended myself and my home by any means necessary! Incidentally, Gates asked the cop for his I.D. and it was not given.
The Wrap Up
Many american are tired of hearing the gripes of black people. They don't want to hear about Katrina anymore. They don't like affirmative action and they have had it up to here with talk of racial profiling. Just remember that if a man as decorated, celebrated and accomplished as Dr. Henry Louis Gates can be dragged from his own home, try and comprehend what happens on a daily basis to the average black man and woman in this country.