Thursday, July 30, 2009

Henry Louis Gates Jr. Should Apologize and Make Amends

Professor Henry Lewis Gates Jr., the director of Harvard University's W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research, was arrested earlier this month after someone saw him forcing open his own front door, which was jammed, and called police.

The police came, and it turned into a very bad situation when the first officer arrived on the scene. Professor Gates allegedly responded to the officer's request for identification by shouting, "Why, because I am a black man in America?" and calling him a racist.

Professor Gates, 58, has accused the police officer of racism and racial profiling. But racial profiling means that the only reason the officer asked Gates to produce identification proving he lived there was because he was a black man in a nice home, and not because Gates had forced the front door open. Professor Gates is outright declaring that if he had been a white man the officer would have taken his word for it that he lived there and the cop would not have asked for an I.D..

I am a 59-year-old man whose ancestors are mostly European, slightly American Indian, and family legend has it that we're also, a tad bit, of African decent. So, I'm about as "white" as the day is long. One time, due to my own negligence of not having my house key with me, I had to break into my own home. And I sure-as-hell realized that if a police officer or anyone else who does not know me or where I live had witnessed that break-in of mine they would have treated me with the utmost suspicion, until I proved to them that I was breaking into my own home.

To have avoided this messy situation, which is being reported on and talked and argued about all around the world, all that Professor Gates had to do was face the fact that any person of any skin shade or tone who is seen breaking into their own home will be considered a criminal suspect by any witnesses to those actions who do not realize that a burglary is not actually taking place.

Anytime that a bad situation arises between two or more people, the guiltiest person of all is the one who began the initial actions towards creating the situation. Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. began his really bad situation by forcing open his front door while not accepting the reality that any strangers who might witnesses those actions would see it as a possible burglary in process. Professor Gates had to break the door loose from being jammed, but he didn't have to break out into a fit of racially charged rage aimed at a police officer who was given the call to respond to the situation and had only requested that Gates provide legal identification.

Instead of Professor Gates being thankful to the policeman for providing protective services to the Gates' home and anyone who may have been in the home, Gates became angry, rude, loud and accusatory. When he should have been even tempered, calm and considerate while explaining the jammed door situation to the officer. Then he should have been grateful to the police and the lady who called 911 for their concern shown about Professor Gates' home and family's safety and security.

You can bet that if Professor Gates had realized that someone -- who does not know him or where he lives-- had observed him breaking into his house but they had not called 911 to report the situation, then you can bet that Professor Gates would have told people later, "They saw me breaking in. They didn't know that I wasn't a burglar, but they didn't call 911. If I had been a burglar, I could have cleaned the place out, and those people who saw me wouldn't have done a thing about it. Didn't want to get involved! That’s the way people are today. They don't care about anyone but themselves."

Professor Gates owes an apology to all police, government, media, and public persons all around the world who now know or who will ever learn about this bad situation that was easily avoidable. Who he owes this apology to most of all are the millions of children whom he has permanently, emotionally, socially injured by them learning of this situation and unwittingly believing that it was caused by a light skinned person mistreating a darker skinned person.

Professor Gates should spend as much of the rest of his life that he can in healing the festering injuries he has inflicted upon our society. Injuries caused by his ill-conceived ideas concerning how a person should react to a police officer who does not realize that a person is breaking into their own house and has the right to. Professor Gates should apologize and make amends for his ill-tempered, ill-mannered actions that made a bad situation far worse.

© David Robert Crews {a.k.a. ursusdave}