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Professor Gates: The reality of racism still lives (470 hits)

It is almost ironic that President Obama was giving a speech at the NAACP Convention about "structural inequalities" as Professor Gates was being arrested.

I applaud the President for "standing up for Black men." The Bible teaches this:
Get wisdom, get understanding . . . Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Proverbs 4:5-7

Three recent events have operated like a "post-racial perfect storm" to destroy this myth, to illustrate that racism is alive and well -- and understanding is in short supply. This may have cost the President some momentum on the health care issue, just as the attacks caused some drama in the Judge Sotomayor hearings. The enormous outpouring of sentiment on both sides of the Gates case is also costing every one of us to pause and consider the disproportionate treatment of Black men by those in the Justice System. It is all worth whatever the final cost turns out to be.

Judge Sotomayor's "wise Latina" comment; Skip Gates' arrest; and President Obama's "structural inequalities" acknowledgement at the NAACP. These all came with a cost that was summarized in the President's defense of Skip Gates AND EVERY BLACK MAN IN AMERICA when he said "The Cambridge police acted stupidly." It doesn't matter if you think he chose his words poorly, he has ignited a discussion that we must have -- just to raise the awareness, and perhaps enter into the decision of the next officer to apply some wisdom while he or she asserts their authority.

These events needed to come together in a public dialog that is eclipsing the Health Care Plan, The Economic Recovery, and the progress of the 2 wars we are fighting. Three of the most prominent black and brown people in the country have been attacked and criticized in ways that reveal that there is still limited understanding on the part of our white fellow-citizens regarding the pain, humiliation, threat, intimidation, and outright fear that many Blacks have for the police and the powerlessness that Blacks experience at the hands of whites in positions of power.

We are a long way from any notion of a post-racial society. And quite frankly, that has never been the goal of most Blacks -- not even Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Post-racist, yes. Post-racial, no. As a friend of mine would say, "We all have to stay Black until we die." So, we who are Black will never become somehow "post-racial." Some would have us apologize for being Black and proud, and even speak about "reverse discrimination" when their positions of privilege are threatened.

We have to speak out and fight even the impulse of discrimination. And yes, police officers and others in public positions have to be extra-sensitive to racial tensions. That is what 400 years of oppression has wrought for this country. We all have to acknowledge this as we work to make things better for the descendents of Africa.

It is still HARD to be a successful Black man in America.

Roger Madison
Posted By: Roger E Madison Jr
Friday, July 24th 2009 at 1:01PM
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Great post! Sgt. James Crowley used bad judgment when he arrested Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. But I'm appalled at police union representatives audacity to support Sgt. Crowley's use of bad judgment, even lashing out at President Barack Obama for commenting on the incident. They contend that President Obama should have remained silent on something they call "a local issue." In short, they didn't want the Cambridge Police Department being the poster child for racial profiling. But Sgt. Crowley's decision to arrest Dr. Gates turned this into a national issues because Dr. Gates just happens to be a nationally and internationally respected scholar. If you ask me, these union representatives' self-righteousness is causing them to not give Dr. Gates the respect that he deserves.

Take care.

Jeffery A. Faulkerson, MSSW

Friday, July 24th 2009 at 1:17PM
J. A. Faulkerson
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