Havard Professor Henry (Skip) Gates Jr. Arrest, Indicts Racial Equality In America
Another disgraceful institutional indictment at racial profiling against Black-Americans makes headlines again. Today's disturbing report of an arrest of “Skip,” not only stains post-racial conceptualization, but demonstrates an unending humiliation endured by both educated, under-educated Black-Americans. This situation indifferently projects-further failing racial-equalities between black & white in the United States .
Who would have imagined humiliation of Professor Henry (Skip) L. Gates Jr., Summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale, MacArthur “genius grant” recipient? An acclaimed historian, Harvard professor & PBS documentarian; one Time magazine's “25 Most Influential Americans” 1997; Holder of 50 honorary degrees, et al, will become a symbol of U.S. disgraceful history of racial inequalities.
Denial of institutional racism is no option. A parsed debate at institutional inquiries facing America reminds one of America 's past. If Gates Jr., can be taken away from his pad, arrested by a White police-officer, further polarizes white and black relationship in North-American.
Cambridge Police Department claims that Gates yelled at the Police-officer. Gates was harassed, intimidated, and humiliated at his own home. Officers allegedly received a call from a woman that claimed to have seen two black male breaking into a property. This explanation indicts American society, regardless whether Barack Obama is first American Black President or not. This whole thing about Obama administration means nothing in White America in the face of institutional racism against black-America & other minorities, 500 years later.
According to Earl Graves Jr., CEO, of the company that publishes Black Enterprise magazine, who was also humiliated by police during his train commute to work, narrated his experiences, “My case took place back in 1995, and here we are 14 years later dealing with the same madness." “Barack Obama being the president has meant absolutely nothing to white law enforcement officers. Zero. So I have zero confidence that (Gates' case) will lead to any change whatsoever."
Gates just returned from China last Thursday afternoon and found the front door of his Cambridge-home stuck shut. Gates entered his home through the back door, forced open the front door with help from a car service driver. It was reported Gates, was on the phone with the Harvard leasing company when a white police sergeant arrived.
Gates and the sergeant gave differing accounts of what happened next. But for many people, that doesn't matter. Americans, particularly Black-America is angry at the system. Truism—it doesn't matter, whether Gates was charged with break and entry, with a disorderly conduct after repeatedly demanding for Sgt. James Crowley's name and badge number. Yes, it doesn't matter whether he was yelling or screaming at officer, whether somebody is racist, whether all charges were dropped Tuesday. To some all they see is pure racial profiling. QED!
The question is if Gates was a white professor at Harvard—it will be treated totally different ball game. "It never would have happened — imagine a white professor, a distinguished white professor at Harvard, walking around with a cane, going into his own house, being harassed or stopped by the police. It would never happen."
For record, racial profiling was a national issue in the 1990s, as highway police patrolling on major drug trafficking routes witnessed a record stop & search on “simply being black.” Lawsuits were filed, studies commissioned, data was analyzed but nothing happened. In 2001, President George W. Bush remarked, "It is wrong, and we will end it in America ." All these were mere rhetorical flourishes because we had nothing to show for it.
Statistical studies show record police disproportionately stop, search and arrest minorities. Here in United States , Federal legislation to ban racial profiling has languished since being introduced in 2007 by some Senators including then-Sen. Barack Obama.
There is always one explanation or another when it comes to racial profiling, employment profiling. Currently we see record breaking 15 percent black-unemployment in New York City alone compared at over 6 percent Whites unemployment within the same time frame. What can be done about reaching a balance? It is important that we find equilibrium at equity, equal treatment, and equal protection under the law, equal understanding, equal opportunity, equal employment, etc. The relevance that something has to give is unapologetically correct and, we will always confront America as she face difficulties and challenges with expediency of time.
Bottom-line, we must embrace for an impact.
It will be treacherous, betrayal, and pretending that asking for officer's identification matter, or be forthcoming, and arresting for no reason must be condemned rounded by all.
At this juncture, this arrest operation is violating, shocking, embarrassing, especially when one haven't done anything wrong, even more insulting against everything a man stand for.
President Obama talks recently, giving admonition to Black community—reflectively about handouts—not to fall for handouts, favors, but to “seize our own future, each & everyday”, is repetition that we already not but it hits many by surprise. In fact, for many there is nothing like “post-racial about the United States of America ” obviously. We are still in the trenches.
Regrettability is understandable, but how long for this ethnic-driven humiliation? City of Cambridge establishment can apologize as they want to. Its Press Release states this "was regrettable and unfortunate." "This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department." But Gates is moving at the speed of time.
Angry and humiliated, he wants to contract his legal team, even planned to do a documentary about racial profiling. "I'm outraged." A remark he posted in extensive comments made to TheRoot.com, Web-site he manages.
"I can't believe that an individual policeman on the Cambridge police force would treat any African-American male this way, and I am astonished that this happened to me; and more importantly I'm astonished that it could happen to any citizen of the United States , no matter what their race.
He further indicted Cambridge police force and America 's wild-acts and unprofessionalism. "There are 1 million black men in the prison system, and on Thursday I became one of them," "I would sooner have believed the sky was going to fall from the heavens than I would have believed this could happen to me. It shouldn't have happened to me, and it shouldn't happen to anyone."
It is important that officer, Sgt. James Crowley, who has gone hiding tender an apology to Professor Gates.
For record, Gates—is the Director of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research —but became suspect because a woman said she saw "two black males with backpacks on the porch," one of whom was "wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry." according to a police report.
Gates driver's license and Harvard ID — both with his photos — did not matter. He followed the officer onto the front porch as he left his house and was arrested there.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson gave police a U—unsatisfactory report card at this development. "The charges have been dropped, but the stain remains. ... Humiliation remains.” "These incidents are so much of a national pattern on race." Gates shouldn't have been treated this way.
Skip joined Harvard faculty in 1991 and one the most influential Americans. It is important that America treat this matter and similar matters, including criminal cold-gated prison system where many black-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are for the most part, illegitimately locked away for decades. Until America addresses her racial inequalities, her image internationally and domestically will remain indicted and will remain shattered for a long time.
Carlisle U.O. Umunnah
Is New York-based Freelance Writer
Contact: [email protected]