Friday, July 24, 2009

When Race Clouds Judgement

There is a lot being made about the arrest of Professor Henry Gates by Sergeant James Crowley of the Cambridge Massachusetts police department. Obviously I have no personal information about the particular incident. Yet based on media reports and my own life experiences I do have a strong belief as to what happened.

As we go through our days and lives we fill our emotional bucket with thoughts, beliefs and frustrations. They are from various events in our lives that may or may not be random and have nothing to do with each other. Then at times that bucket gets full and something causes it do dump in often a very messy way. That is what I believe happened on both sides.

Dr Gates is a black man in America. He is very aware through his own experiences and studies and research that often black men are indeed treated differently by law enforcement. Statistics clearly show this there can be no dispute on this fact. Add to this his house had been recently broken into. Then after a long trip he comes home and is locked out of his house and has to break in. This would be a bad day for anyone. Suddenly a police officer shows up at his door and his bucket dumped.

Sergeant Crowley is a law enforcement officer. Just that fact alone results in experiences and events that put things in his bucket. Add to that there had been a rash of burglaries in this neighborhood. Sergeant Crowley has had a stellar record on racial issues and in fact teaches other officers how do deal with such attitudes. No doubt he is proud of his record on race relations. Then suddenly on a routine breaking and entering check, he gets hit with Professor Gates bucket and he is offended and his bucket dumps on the Professor.

I can very much relate to how Sergeant Crowley probably felt. I feel I have lived my life and have acted in all I have done professionally and personally to both understand the issues of race in our lives and to make sure that I did not allow it to cloud my judgement. It is something about me that I have always been proud of. Despite that I have had incidents where someone wrongly, accused me of racist behavior. I was both hurt, offended and angry.

Who is wrong here? In my opinion both. Dr Gates should not have been so quick to assume the officer was acting based on racial profiling and no way should this respected college professor ended up in the Sergeant's handcuffs.

They both should have known better, but then we all should when we act "stupidly" when we dump our own buckets.

As far as President Obama's comments on the issue. First of all he did not call Sergeant Crowley racist. He admitted he did not know the details of what occurred. But he also admitted that Dr Gates was a personal friend. Much like all of us he stood by his friend. He also discussed the true fact that racial profiling does exists and is a real problem in our society. What was the "stupid" act that he refereed to is that the 58 year old college professor who walks with a cane ended up arrested in his own home.

Now what? I believe that Dr Gates and Sergeant Crowley need to pick up their buckets and sit down and talk. Then need to reach out and try to understand each other and what truly lead to the disastrous result. By doing this not only will both men grow from it personally but perhaps the country will as well.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home