2009-07-21

Racial Profiling Or Uppity Negro?



Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a Harvard Professor. He is well known for his PBS specials has has done over the years. I posted about one of them a while back. Dr. Gates was arrested in his own home after a trip from China. Someone called the police on him, as it appeared he was breaking into his home. He is saying the door was jammed, and he had to wedge his shoulder into the door to open it. The police came to the door and demanded Gates come outside. According to the officer, Gates yelled at him, refused to show his ID, and pulled the race card. According to Gates he didn't yell, he did show his ID, but did ask for the badge number and name of the officer, but was refused.

The response to the story I read was very disheartening for me. It seems every person sided with the officer, saying Gates had a "big head", and was throwing around the race card.

My question is this, if Gates was irate and uncooperative, did that mean he needed to be arrested? He was in his own home, he is back from a trip, and he has an officer questioning him. I know that to me, having experienced officers questioning where I live because I might appear not to be a resident of the neighborhood, I might also be insulted that I can't even go to my own house without someone questioning my right to be there.

Is he really an uppity negro, or a man upset? How come anytime something like this happens, many white people are quick to assume fault with the black person, calling them stuck up, or "big headed" or "uppity". Had this happened to a white Harvard Professor, would those terms be applied? Also with the conflicting stories, it seems that most people overwhelming jumped to defense of the police officer, and used his account to give their "uppity negro" argument more credibility, without once thinking that the officer in question might not be telling the whole entire truth. Would they do that if Dr. Gates were white?