Professor Henry Louis Gates said he hoped his arrest by Crowley leads to greater sensitivity on racial profiling. He described it as a teaching moment, saying that he planned to use his arrest and jail experience as the basis of a documentary on racial profiling.
So what did we learn from the Gates arrest in Boston? For me, it confirmed my belief that many (not all) accusations of racism and racial profiling are excuses for beligerance when someone is in a situation they don’t like. For many others, the Boston incident taught them that some accusations of racism might be simple grandstanding and can be ignored.
My education along this line began twenty some years ago, when I first met the man that was to become my husband. I remember one incident in particular. I was paying for a meal at a chain restaurant. The cashier, before taking my check, asked me for some ID. I pulled out my driver’s license and showed it to her, and we went on our way.
Walking out the door, my to-be husband whispered to me that she wouldn’t have done that if he hadn’t been standing behind me. He truly believed that the only reason she asked for my ID was because I was with a minority. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I knew that getting carded at a restaurant was nothing new for me. Sometimes they did it, sometimes they didn’t, but it had nothing to do with whether he was there or not. I scoffed at his assumption that it was all about him.
And we had other such “teaching moments” when he needed to learn that it wasn’t all about his skin. He needed to learn that some clerks are just tired or have bad days, just like he does, and if they scowl, it doesn’t mean that they are even thinking about him let alone hating him. I’m a person who falls into deep thought about various issues and I don’t always notice who is around me. If I am lost in my own thoughts, thinking about something difficult or emotional, it frequently shows on my face. It has nothing to do with who is in the room. There are many people in this world just like me. Not every scowl is racially motivated.
When I first met him and he attended a party at my Dad’s house, he gravitated after a short time to the garage and ate his meal out there. This wasn’t because anyone in the house had any animosity against him. It was a reaction born of his own insecurity.
Fortunately, my husband did learn from these teaching moments, and the older he got the more he began to relax around people of “non-color” and even enjoy himself. In his later years, he not only enjoyed people of all heritages, but he felt comfortable standing up and speaking to various politicians about the fallacy of race-based laws (such as ICWA). He even went to DC several times to speak to various Congressmen on issues.
This isn’t to say that we never experienced real racism. On a few isolated occasions, we ran up against the real thing. But now he could tell the difference.
Interestingly, it was because he relaxed and became comfortable with his own thoughts and voice that he himself began to be accused of being a racist by a state Human Rights Network. You see, he was a minority speaking against political correctness. That makes the Left very uncomfortable. They would rather that all minorities stay in neat little, controllable packages.
When he passed away five years ago, his birth family was surprised by the number of people of “non-color” that not only showed up at his funeral, but stood up and spoke of their admiration for him.
Perhaps Professor Gates has spent too much time in his ivory tower and needs to get out more.