Before delving into the true topic of today’s post, I want to point out some things about me personally.
I am different.
I am not black or white, but both… as are my thoughts, my feelings, my emotions and experiences.
I am a smorgasbord of things…
… I am half white, a quarter black and a quarter Native American.
I am a walking contradiction.
I am a person of color, raised by a white family.
I married a black man, and had two daughters by him.
I have lived a life of priviledge.
I have lived a life of pain.
I have lived a life of prejudice.
I have lived a life of contempt.
I have been victimized.
I have victimized others.
All of these things make me who I am.
They, like my own skin tone, muddy my views, color the waters of what I see in the world around me.
I cry out when I see real injustice.
I get angry when people claim to be victims of said injustice, but are really perpetrators, finding reasons to make excuses for own their unreasonable behavior.
I have no sympathy for a black man who does not take responsibility for his destiny, instead finding himself wallowing in self-pity and poverty.
I have no love for a white man who believes that by virtue of his skin color, he has inherited the keys to the world, and is entitled to keep his black brothers from having them too.
My views clash with those of my white friends and black ones.
I do not always see injustice where they do.
Sometimes, a white police officer is doing the unforgivable when targeting a black man simply because of the color of the man’s skin.
Other times, black men are taking advantage of tumultuous times, exploiting growing racial discomfort, highlighting racial tensions and using it all as an excuse not to have to take personal responsibility for their own actions.
I am sick of it.
I hear stories like the fiasco that occured in Cambridge, MA, and I am filled with shame.
A white police officer responded to a call of a buglary in progress at a residence in his jurisdiction. Sargeant James Crowley had no way of knowing, upon arriving at the residence, whether the man inside the home was the legal occupant or the same burglar a neighbor woman had called 911 about, claiming to have witnessed two men attempting to break into the home.
The man, it turns out, is Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. He is a prominent African American, but none of that matters to me. What is important is not Professor Gates’ prominence, but rather, his behavior on the night in question.
There is no doubt that Gates is the lawful resident of the home, nor is there any doubt that Professor Gates came home that evening, after a period of time overseas, to a house with a jammed front door. With the assistance of his driver, the door had to be man-handled, but was finally opened. It was the image of Gates, at night, accompanied by his driver, ramming his body repeatedly into the door that caused a neighbor to become alarmed. She called the police and reported what she was witnessing- two black males attempting to break into a residence.
Initially, upon responding Officer Crowley’s arrival, the professor refused to open his door. He accused the officer of simply targeting him as a black man in America. The officer, not to be swayed, refused to leave the premises until Professor Gates could prove that he was, in fact, the occupant of the house.
Gates, at this point, opened the door, told the officer to stay where he was, and went into the kitchen to obtain the requested identification.
The officer, not listening to Gates request to stay put instead followed him into the home.
I wonder why there was so much public outrage at this single act.
The officer did not, at this point, know that Gates was the resident of the home. Gates had yet to produce ID, and was overly defensive over the officer’s very presence. How was Crowley to know that Gates was not an intruder? How was he to know that Gates would not go into another room and produce a weapon? How was he to know that Gates was not claiming to leave the room for his identification, while actually planning to flee the scene through a back door?
It seems Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and (dare I say it) even President Barack Obama have lost sight of the fact that this was the investigation of a burglary in progress.
The professor, it is now obvious, did not like the fact that Officer Crowley inserted himself into the residence, and immediately became beligerent. While he did ultimately produce his identification, he began threatening the officer. Not with physical violence, but with such things as, “You have no idea who you’re messing with” and “You haven’t heard the last of me!”. He demanded the officer’s name and badge number, and followed the officer outside, continuing to scream at him.
Ultimately, deciding that he’d had enough, Officer Crowley arrested Professor Gates, charging him with disorderly conduct, though the charges were dropped the next morning.
Obama has spoken publicly, during a prime-time news conference, claiming Officer Crowley acted “stupidly”.
The Civil Rights icons are coming out of the wood-work, crying foul… screaming that this is yet another example of white-cop-on-black-man abuse.
Professor Gates’ attorney is making the rounds in a full-fledged media blitz, defending his client’s honor the best he can.
The mayor of Cambridge, MA is meeting with the professor over lunch to apologize on behalf of the city.
The Cambridge Police Department has called the incident “unfortunate”, but stands behind its Sargeant’s actions.
Sargeant Crowley himself refuses to apologize.
Personally, I don’t believe Obama should have inserted himself into this issue to begin with. As he stated during the press conference, he was not capable of giving an unbiased response, as Gates is his friend, and even admitted to not having all the facts available to him.
In short, the President had no idea what had occured on the night in question, was not capable of reacting to the facts, once available, in an unbiased fashion… so what he did was simply stand up for a friend…
He vouched for Gates simply because they have a personal history, not because there is any evidence to support the professor’s blown-up allegations.
How irresponsible indeed.
Now we have police officers the entire country over claiming Obama is a disgrace to them.
Perhaps, had he waited for all the facts to come out, he would have learned of Gates’ completely ridiculous, childish, temper tantrum-like behavior. Or of Officer Crowley’s distinguished career within the police department. Perhaps he would have learned that Crowley himself has taught Cambridge’s well-respected racial profiling course for the past five years.
He would have understood that there is no evidence of any sort of racism on the part of Officer Crowley… not when analyzing his behavior during this incident, or in reviewing his record on any other issue.
I was raised (by my white family) that if one chooses to act like a complete idiot having a mental breakdown in the presence of (and most espeically while being investigated by) a police officer, the crazy-acting guy pretty much deserves whatever the heck it is he gets.
This was not a case of racism.
This was the unfortunate result of a pissing contest between two men of considerable stature.
I have lost friends over my views on the Cambridge matter.
I have been accused, as a “woman of color”, of denying my “true” heritage in siding with the police officer in this case.
It hurts… I have never claimed racism is dead in America. I have blogged- multiple times- on this very site about its existence.
I refuse to bow down and call an ugly situation that could have been altogether avoided racism simply because the black man involved wants me to believe that’s what occured.
The Emperor really, truly, is wearing no clothes.
I will not pretend otherwise.