Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tearing Down the Gate(s)

If you haven't heard about the bogus arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., last week at his home: Read up.

Harvard history scholar/critic/professor, Gates was trying to get in his own front door, which was jammed, when the cops showed up and accused him of breaking in. They couldn't seem to believe that he lived blocks away from one of the most prestigious universities in our country, and proceeded to cart him off to jail.

Oh, I forgot to mention that Gates is African American.

Gates says this is not atypical behavior.

This is an absolute outrage on so many levels, and just goes to show how deep ignorance pervades the psyche. I imagine it's still quite a problem at universities such as Harvard, Yale, Brown, etc., in regard to enrollment as well as faculty.

I am personally offended by this story because I love HLG. He was my first Black crush. When I read his memoir Colored People, in which he describes the foibles of dealing with Black folks' hair and how it absolutely affected every aspect of Black life during the 50s/60s, I laughed so hard it hurt. I laughed because what he was describing was my hair and my experience, though I'd lived it in a vacuum of isolation. I laughed with warmth growing all around me because his words spoke directly to my heart. I laughed because--at last--it was starting not to hurt so much anymore.

So I am hurt by this. Hurt that for all his work, here we are. Another day and another Black man and another act of racial profiling.

Dr. Counter, a Black Med school prof at Harvard was quoted in the article as saying, “My colleagues and I have asked the question of whether this kind of egregious act would have happened had Professor Gates been a white professor."

Oo--me, me! Pick me, teacher! I know the answer to this one.

(Also note, as my friend Shelagh pointed out yesterday, that the NYT article only cites words of outrage from Blacks. As if they would be the only ones upset.)

At any rate, I believe this is just another example of why we cannot glibly say we are in a post-racial society. We may be working toward this, yes, but we have not arrived yet.

1 comment:

Ronni said...

Oh girl. You and I both know that just because we have a black president, it does not mean our society is post-racial. Frankly, I don't think it ever will be. If anything, I feel like things have gotten worse lately. The stuff I'm seeing today is way more prevalent and hurtful than it was even a year ago.

I need to get a hold of that memoir.