Thursday, July 23, 2009

Survey: What is the Condition of Racism in America?

The United States has elected a person of color as President of the United States.

Police in Cambridge are profiling to the extent that they enter the home of one of the most prominent black educators in the United States, Henry Louis Gates, and arrest him.

Cornel West and Carl Dix comment on this subject in the show Democracy Now.

What is your experience? Good, bad? Give examples.


brd said...

President Obama weighs in.

cadh 8 said...

OK, so I totally admit that I have not been paying close attention to this news story, and the real story is in the details, as far as right and wrong. But I question if truth can ever be parsed out in this case. For the arrested professor, he will never own to this not being racially motivated. And to the white cop, he may not even be aware of slight biases that led him to handle this situation differently than a situation involving a white man (if he did that). Is the race situation still pretty bad? Obviously, because it is the first thing people choose to blame in this case.
But to be honest, I have no way of knowing the truth of whether this is racial profiling. But I will tell you, that it is a case that shows that we are slaves to the media, and we are subject to THEIR bias right or left, white or black. How they report this affects whether we are angry and affronted against the cop, or against the professor. THat is all I know.

cadh 8 said...

Oh, and I think, speaking of media bias, your set up of this story is a bit biased. Prominent or not, you should be arrested if you do wrong. If you threaten a cop and are disorderly in your neighborhood, you should be arrested. The question is, did this man do these things and would a white man have been arrested if he did the same. It is not as if the cops randomly decided to go out and find a black man to arrest, although there have been times in the history of this country where that has happened.

To be honest, I do get nervous when I see a group of black men who are dressed with baggy pants and bandanas, even in the nicer parts of town. Now, a well dressed black man is more attractive than scary, so I wouldn't lock my doors for him. BUT more black men that I see are dressed thug-like than buisnessman like. So where do we place the blame for this. Am I a racists for my fear? I always say "But white men dressed that way scare me too!!" And this is true, but who can tell what portion the color of people's skin does affect me, as well as all the associations with that color, even if I don't want it to. It is a complicated and distressing problem.

brd said...

Thanks for your thoughts Cadh8.

I recently finished the book, copyright 1912, The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man by James Weldon Johnson. Certainly times have changed since those days. Racism is less pronounced now. Profiling is now considered wrong, even if it is sometimes still practiced. Racially motivated crimes, though they still sometimes occure, are considered to be crimes.

I am proud to be in a country where individuals of many races are on the faculty of schools like Harvard as well as the University of TN.

I know that prejudices remain and are recreated at times, but still I think it is a sign of health that the country and the media consider the Gates incident to be a matter of serious concern.

brd said...

Obama recalibrates!

"Because this has been ratcheting up and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up, I wanted to make clear in my choice of words I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sgt Crowley specifically," Mr Obama said.

"I could have calibrated those words differently," he added.

Mr Obama also revealed that he had spoken to Sgt Crowley on the telephone, and described him as an "outstanding police officer and a good man".

He said he continued to believe that Professor Gates's arrest was "an overreaction", but that "Professor Gates probably overreacted as well".

Dan Trabue said...

The thing is, for me anyway, is that I suspect that Gates was over-reacting and being a bit of a jerk. BUT, being a jerk in your own house is not an arrestable charge!!

I don't think this was too much about racism on the part of the police officer as it was about pride and power. He was accosted (at the professor's own home who was being harassed for being rude in his own home!) by the professor and he did not want to back down, it sounds like to me. So, rather than back down and lose face, he arrested a man for being a jerk in his own home. In so doing, he acted stupidly, it sounds like to me.

I agree with Obama's original assessment.

I think too many white folk just don't have a good handle on the black experience and I'm more disturbed by the reaction this has had in more white-ish communities than I am about one professor being a jerk (in his own home!) and one cop abusing his power. It's obvious to me that too many of the white folk complaining about this just don't understand how for too many years our black brothers and sisters have been too poorly treated, and too often by people in power, like the police.

As a result, do some in the black community have a bit of a chip on their shoulder? Yes. But it is a chip that society placed there and so it is hard to fault them very much.

brd said...

I definitely agree with your assessment of the situation. Both individuals should have backed down. As soon as it became clear that Gates was in his own home the need for police intervention ended.

Hopefully, the ability of both of these men to calm down, eventually, will bring some positive result.

cadh 8 said...

I have to agree with Dan, especially after some long conversations with some intelligent people about this matter. THe history of mistrust because of heinous things that have happened can't be ignored. Black people have real reasons to not trust white law-enforcement.

And I actually just yesterday sat in a meeting and stated that cursing in your own home is not illegal. (this was regarding clients that I work with) I think you have a good point there and pride and power did come into play in this case.

brd said...


Cursing at the dinner table: legal!!!

brd said...

Quote of the Day from nothing less than Information Week Daily (Is that an oxymoron?):
"There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity."

-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe