So one has to wonder is a racist defined by his choice of words? Sure Justin Barnett did not participate in cross burnings or lynchings, but the use of this term is more than a poor word choice or an angry rant. We have a Boston cop who writes a fiery letter and refers to Harvard professor Henry Gates as a “jungle monkey”, but he is not a racist. You called a black man a jungle monkey that is not a term of endearment. He says he was venting and he has since apologized for his “poor choice of words”. “The police commissioner put 36-year-old Justin Barrett on administrative leave pending a termination hearing after learning of the slur. Barrett is a member of the National Guard has been suspended from his military duties pending an investigation.” Your words define who you are. Generally you say what is on your mind and in your heart. You can’t put it out there and take it back when you see the response. I am not going to call him a racist, I am just going to say anyone who uses this kind of language at least has racist tendencies, and he is an adult and adults have to be held accountable for what they say. President Obama took some heat when he said the Cambridge police acted “stupidly” in the Gates situation, and even he was forced to reel it back a little. So this policemen is going to have to take it like a man and own up to his own words.
Tag Archives: Henry louis Gates
Justin Barrett, a Boston cop sent an anonymous letter to the Boston Globe ranting about the media coverage of the Gates incident. In his letter he refered to the Harvard professor as a “jungle monkey”. So why would people automatically trust the word of a Boston cop? Barrett has been put on administrative leave with pay pending a disciplinary hearing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylK11FxxLCw
Colin Powell Comments on the Gates Controversy and Relates His Own Racial Profiling Story on Larry King Live
We are going into the second week of the Gates controversy. Unless you live under a rock you have heard the facts of the case. Or shall I say the disputed facts. In this case the facts vary depending on whose telling them. Some say the President weighed into the controversy, but I contend he was dragged into it. Nevertheless he will be having a beer with Professor Gates and Sgt. Crowley very soon. The story refuses to die and last night on Larry King Live General Colin Powell said that he too had been the victim of racial profiling many times. Powell said Gates could have handled the situation differently. Powell urged young people confronted by the police to “cooperate. Don’t make the situation more difficult.” When King asked Powell how did it make him feel Powell said “Do you get angry? Yes. Do you manifest that anger? You protest, you try to get things fixed, but it’s kind of a better course of action to take it easy and don’t let your anger make the current situation worse.” It is easy for people to comment on the Gates controversy, and say Gates might have handled the situation better, but it is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. We will never really know what happened in that house so we will never know how we would have reacted to the situation. Powell is a disciplined military man who worked his way up and to do that he has had to learn to keep his emotions in check. So it stands to reason that Powell would have handled the situation differently, and it also stands to reason that no cop in America today would have cuffed Gen. Colin Powell not even Sgt. Crawley.
The Henry Louis Gates controversy has rekindled the idea of having a national conversation on race. What does this mean? Will policy makers come together and say racism is wrong? We already know that. Will they say racial profiling is bad? We already know that. Will they say not all policemen are bad? Well we know that too. So what would they discuss and what could they possibly accomplish? Last week I did a number of posts on the Gates situation and one of the readers sent me a comment. This is an excerpt from that comment. “Lately, this blog has become heavily focused on the negative: racism and Dr. Gates, Republicans and racism, racism in the media, racism and children, and general racism. I just can’t take it anymore, and I’m black. Racism exists and racism is bad…I get it. Yet somehow trying to keep my job and basically survive is taking precedence over racism woes these days.” So again I ask is America ready for this conversation or is this a conversation that most do not want to have?
This morning while watching the Morning Joe I was struck by how this Henry Louis Gates story will not go away. By now everyone knows the story. Black man arrested in his own home by white policemen, but the facts of the incident are still in dispute. The President has said the cops acted “stupidly” which elevated the conversation, but the sad part of this is people are being attacked for facilitating the conversation. In the case of Mika Brzenski she said she was receiving hate mail from both sides for merely asking questions, but that is her job to ask questions. Race is an uncomfortable conversation. most of the time we don’t discuss it but that does not mean that race is not an issue. It is times like this that force us to grample with this touchy subject. While watching the show it was interesting to see co-workers who normally affirm each other at odds with each other. Race is a polarizing subject but the conversation on race should not be polarizing, but unfortunately it is.
The Henry Louis Gates controversy has caused America to re-visit the issue of racial profiling. When I initially read the article I thought it was a clear case, but I was surprised at the response of my husband. My husband is an Ivy League graduate and he said when the police give you an order you comply. He said any other response might get you killed. I think the public is appalled because Gates is a noted historian and an esteemed elder in the black community. The question is how could they do this to him, but the bigger issue is how could they do it at all. The sad fact is we have to teach our children how to react to the police. The police are no longer the Officer Friendly we met in elementary school. There are far too many rogue officers who are looking for a reason to use their billy club and we do not want our children to be on the other end of it. So in spite of the fact that Gates is beloved to us he is still a black man and like it or not in 2009 black men still have to behave in a certain way or risk being killed.
A friend of mine from Chicago sent me the link to a story that ran in the Chicago Sun-Times. The headline is Oh, Henry! You’re Sending the Wrong Message. In the article she gives a very interesting look at the incident and she presents a good argument that is worthy of reading.
BY MARY MITCHELL Sun-Times Columnist
As a homeowner who has had a break-in, I can’t get too worked up over what happened to Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. Notable African Americans across the country are expressing outrage that Gates, who is considered to be a leading African-American intellectual, was hauled off to jail for trying to get into his own house. But let’s look at this from another angle. This is a case of no good deed goes unpunished. I wish someone had been watching when thieves broke into my house and made off with everything they could carry. But like so many other communities in America, we live in neighborhoods of strangers. That’s probably why the woman who called 911 on Gates didn’t simply walk over and ask if she could help. What she saw was two black men acting suspiciously. What Gates saw was racial profiling. And because complaints about racial profiling are so common, even without knowing all of the facts about Gates’ arrest, President Obama concluded that police “acted stupidly” and pointed out that “blacks and Hispanics are picked more frequently, and oftentimes for no cause.” Still, if you are a black man living in a prestigious neighborhood, you shouldn’t be surprised that someone would call police if they spot you on the porch trying to force open the front door. According to the statement released by Gates’ lawyer, Charles Ogletree, another heavy-hitting Harvard professor, Gates arrived from an overseas trip and found his front door jammed. “Gates then entered his rear door with his key, turned off his alarm and again attempted to open the front door. With the help of his driver, they were able to force the front door open,” Ogletree noted. Once inside, Gates called the real estate company about the damage to the door of his rented home, and that’s when he “observed a uniformed officer on his front porch.””When Professor Gates opened the door, the officer immediately asked him to step outside. Professor Gates remained inside his home and asked the officer why he was there,” Ogletree said. Let’s stop there. A lot of black men have been brutally beaten by police officers for not obeying a police order. But according to Ogletree, the police officer told Gates he was responding to a 911 call about a breaking and entering. As is the case with all confrontations between police and citizens, the versions of what happened differ. Gates claims that after giving the police officer his Harvard University identification and his valid Massachusetts driver’s license, he asked the officer if he would give him his name and badge number. “He made his request several times. The officer did not produce any identification nor did he respond to Professor Gates’ request for this information,” Ogletree said. But the police report claims that after Gates was told police were there because of a 911 call, he said: “Why, because I’m a black man in America?” and that Gates initially refused to show his ID. The report also alleges that Gates engaged in colorful dialogue with the arresting officer: “Gates turned to me and told me that I had no idea who I was ‘messing’ with and that I had not heard the last of it,” the officer reported. When Gates was repeatedly told to “step outside,” he allegedly responded: “Ya, I’ll speak with your mama outside.” Everybody knows when you start dissing a cop’s mama, that’s it. After about four hours in jail, Gates was released on his own recognizance. Not surprisingly, the City of Cambridge issued a statement Tuesday calling the arrest “regrettable” and “unfortunate,” and the police department dropped all charges. Meanwhile, Gates told TheRoot.com, the online magazine of black perspectives he founded, that he is “outraged.” “[The officer] didn’t say, ‘Excuse me, sir, is there a disturbance here, is this your house?’– he demanded that I step out on the porch, and I don’t think he would have done that if I was a white person,” Gates said. That may be true.But because Gates is recognized as one of the most influential black men in America, his ordeal was nothing compared with what he would have suffered as an ordinary black man. I’m concerned because the message here seems to be that police don’t have the right to order a black man around. That may make sense to Gates. But people who live in urban America know better than to try this at home.
This morning on the Today Show Matt Lauer interviewed Michael Eric Dyson and radio host Michael Smerconish and asked them to weigh in on the controversy. Smerconish said while he is a supporter of the president he disagreed with his assessment of the police, but the more important point he made was the way people look (race) tends to color how they see this situation. President Obama said he did not know what happened in that house, but even without knowing the specifics he knows that once the professor had satisfied the fact that he was in his own home the inquiry should have been over. It is true that President Obama is seeing this situation from the lens of a black man. Michael Eric Dyson affirmed the president’s opinion that the police did act stupidly. The policeman said the professor was uncooperative. What does that mean? I have watched so many white journalists over the past few days say they too would have been uncooperative and belligerant if a policeman came in their home, and even after they complied with the officers request still being told to step outside. Let’s just take the color issue out of the equation why did the officer want Professor Gates to come outside? He wanted him to come outside because he wanted to arrest him. Why did he want to arrest him? He was not breaking and entering wasn’t that the reason they came in the first place? No, he wanted to teach the teacher a lesson. He wanted to let this black guy know who was boss. It reminds me of the old saying “what do you call a black professor?” If you are black you know the answer, and if you can answer the question then you know why Professor Gates is mad and he simply refused to take it anymore.
About a month ago Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)said in jest if President Obama did not have his security he would have a hard time getting a cab in New York. He was criticized for this remark but the reality is it is the truth. Some police see a black man and they think criminal first. This is why noted historian Henry Louis Gates was arrested while attempting to enter his own home. “Police say they were called to the home Thursday afternoon after a woman reported seeing a man try to pry open the front door. They say that they ordered the man to identify himself and that Gates refused. According to a police report, Gates then called the officer a racist and said, “This is what happens to black men in America.” Gates is director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, but to the police he was just a black man breaking and entering.