I am not a racist

Note to everyone – if you have to say “I am not a racist” on the Larry King show, then chances are you are a racist. It seems that many people don’t realize what racism is. There is some misguided belief that unless you kill someone or assault someone physically, that you’re all well and good. That calling someone nigger or chink or whatever doesn’t rise to the level of racist behavior. Last week Boston Police officer Justin Barrett was suspended for sending an email were he referred to Henry Gates Jr. as a “banana eating jungle monkey” three times and referred to Boston Globe columnist’s article about the Gates arrest as “jungle monkey gibberish”. Yet he appeared on the Larry King show to say he is not a racist.  Really? Then – really, who is a racist?

“I am not a racist” has become a refrain that is all too familiar in these days of the “post-racial” society. Barrett’s lawyer contends that this was private communication from a private computer, to which I say that once it became public it doesn’t matter; Bartlett is a government employee and once his acts become public, then their review is fair. It’s what you do in private that identifies you as racist or not. Racists generally aren’t running down the streets wearing white robes and masks yelling “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” Racists at least are interested in self-preservation and keep their racist thoughts and speech to the like minded. It’s when this speech is moved public where action is demanded.  His lawyer says that cops that do cocaine get their jobs back and that Barrett doesn’t deserve to be fired. To that I say that drugs are an addiction, and there are many recovered addicts that are benefits to society. Officer Justin Barrett is a racist, and as such can not be recovered to the point to where they can be trusted to protect the public.

There are enough bad cops out there that we’re not sure of. Let’s get rid of the ones we know are bad.

Racial profiling vs. the benefit of the doubt

gatesyell_01As much as I want to side with Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his case against the Cambridge police, from what has been released, it seems as if he had as much to do with the escalation of events that occurred. Putting myself in the shoes of Sgt. James Crowley, he was called to the site of a potential breaking and entering. Walking into that situation must be tense. Crowley walked into an additional hornets nest of race. Black men in America are not used to getting the benefit of the doubt.  That is the big difference between how this was handled if Gates was a white professor from Harvard. Getting the benefit of the doubt is the difference. Think of it this way – think if Crowley walked in on a pretty blonde trying to get into her house; he probably would help her. Gates probably assumed he wasn’t going the get that benefit. I understand why he might feel that way, but it doesn’t help matters. Racial profiling works both ways – assuming the white cop is out to get you is not going to get you very far. I hate to say it, but a lot of cops are about power and respect – yes sirs go a long way.

That said…

Once it was determined that Gates did live there, why didn’t Crowley eat crow, apologize for the mistake and get out? “Loud and tumultuous behavior in a public place” doesn’t seem like something you get arrested for. The arrest was made to make a point; to reinforce who was in charge. You have to wonder why you can’t be “loud and tumultuous” in your own home? Would the white professor have been allowed to be more “loud and tumultuous”?

Based on any account you read, it appears that there were plenty of mistakes on both sides. A fact that should have lead President Obama to steer clear of this controversy instead of picking sides. I appreciate his honesty, but even I waited until I had a little more information.

One more thing – the woman that called the “burglary” in must be feeling horrible. She did the right thing, but she has to wonder if there were two white men, would she have called the police?

Or would she have given them the benefit of the doubt?

BTW – before the police start getting too high and mighty – I’ll point them to the case in Philadelphia getting a lot of press where a police officer harrassed a woman, putting a gun to her neck, after the officer’s son hit the woman’s car in a car accident. The lack of trust on the behalf of the public towards the police is well earned. A history of abusing the considerable power they have over you and I has made it a “them versus us” relationship not withstanding all they do for the public.