The Sickness That Won’t Go Away

The sickness that won’t go away has flared up with a fury.

Racism, that which Americans don’t like to talk about or admit, is not responding to treatment: that is, sweeping it under the rug. The feelings of people are spilling out all over the place.

It has gone so much further than Henry Louis Gates and Sgt. Crowley. Now, people are vomiting their toxic thoughts all over the place. Underlying all of the venomous talk are the fears and frustrations of two groups of people who have never reconciled.

A white Boston police officer has called Professor Gates a “jungle monkey.”

Glenn Beck, taking issue with President Obama’s remark about the police acting “stupidly,” has called him a racist, and an angry black man.

The story is growing, gaining volume like cotton candy being swirled on a stick.

Everyone knows racial profiling exists.  I don’t know that I think the Gates-Crowley affair was an example of racial profiling, but I do think it was a matter of two male egos clashing.  I don’t think either man acted as well as he might have, but in the end, it was a power struggle, and the police officer played his trump card.

That happens a lot, especially in the African American community. That’s why we mothers tell our sons to keep their mouths shut if and when they are ever stopped by an officer. There is a time to be macho; being at the mercy of a police officer who may or may not be racist is not one of those times.

But what I find interesting is the vomitus of hatred and frustration coming from white and black people, respectively. I can understand the frustration; I have seen white officers operate in black communities. I have never, though, understood the raw hatred of white people toward anyone who is not white.

Ever since Barack Obama was elected president, there has been a strange mixture of joy and caution in the air. Joy from both black and white people who think that his election heralded a “post-racial America,” a period of time where “the disease” can finally be called cured, and caution from a large number of people who do not know what a black man in power means for this country.

There have been outright horrendous statements made by angry white people, wanting the president to have his “Waterloo” moment, no matter how that may look or how it may come about. There have been prayers by both black and white people for the president’s safety.

God-loving Conservative whites have spewed hatred over the airwaves and television networks, responding to their own angst and feeding the angst and anger of their followers.

What did this Gates-Crowley thing do but let America know that it has not – we have not- reached Nirvana yet?

Today is the day of the “beer summit,” and while it is a nice gesture by the President, a meeting between Gates and Crowley is not going to fix the problem of angry white men in police uniforms doing what too many of them do in African American and other minority neighborhoods.

It is not going to assauge the frustration of African American men who have been profiled, harassed and arrested by men in power, with police departments all over the country taking the side of the officers time and time again.

The shame is that not all police officers are racist, bigoted, angry white men. There are some officers who “get it,” who know the history of whites against blacks, of injustice toward blacks, and of how it has damaged police relations with a whole community.

There are too many instances of police officers not protecting African Americans or even respecting African Americans. That is the history. That is the truth. That is the reality.

But we in America keep wanting to wish it away. Blacks and whites alike do not want to talk about it, deal with it, identify the weaknesses and cut them out of our American culture.

And so we sit here today, in 2009, with tempers flaring and vomitus spewing out all over the land, as we deal with our sickness that just won’t go away.

It’s a candid …and painful …observation.

6 thoughts on “The Sickness That Won’t Go Away

  1. Good article

    There is a major difference, however, between telling your son how to behave when he is pulled over by the police and how he should behave in his own home when confronted by either racism or abuse of power (by a white, black, Latino or Asian police officer). Maybe that comes under the heading of what you are calling a clash of male ego’s but I don’t think so. I can’t conceive of you telling your son to “be nice” under those circumstances.

  2. I’m not sure how I feel about the Gates-Crowley issue but I do know that racism is still in issue in all communities, not just minority. Coming from a all/majority white community (99% white when I lived there), it was often unacceptable for anyone who did not look like the “norm” to come into the town.
    As I watched TV today (I hate TV btw), I saw that a high school had it’s first integrated prom in 2008. FIRST!!! That, more than anything else tells me two things:
    1. Racism/segregation/seperation is obviously not over, no matter what anyone wants to believe.
    2. My generation will have a huge impact on this issue as we are moving towards interracial dating and I see my generation celebrating diversity.

    In response to Jerry, the police have a code they must follow, it’s sad, and can look bad, but doesn’t make a person racist for following that code. This is for the safety of all parties. I ran into this same type of issue recently at my school. I saw a man, he just so happened to be black, keying into an apartment that is actually a girl’s apartment. I knocked on the door once. No answer. So, I called our Public Safety. They showed up as well as the local police. This was no longer in my hands. Finally, we had to key into the apartment only to find out that it was one of the tenants boyfriend. Nonetheless, he was not suppose to have a key and it was a chance I could not take, no matter the skin color.
    As a white male, even one who has been a minority in two countries, is very involved with our minority affairs on campus, a member of a majority black church, and has won awards for cross-cultural awareness, I was worried about being called a racism or being told I was profiling him. This is a problem that needs to be addressed as well.

    When will racism end? When blacks don’t have to feel that everything against them is racially motivated. This began with whites, is still an issue because of racist whites, but I will argue that it is blown up by our so-called “black leaders”. And when whites don’t feel that everything they say or every action they make to a black person will be taken as racially motivated. If we can fix these two issues, I believe racism in the black/white sense may finally be able to end.

  3. I think Obama holding a “beer summitt”-while being a nice gester- was niave and had undertones of CYB (cover your butt) , in an effort to pacify the white people he angered when he made the comments about the police officer.

    In my opinion racism is just a branch on the tree of human behaviour. We has humans have always seperated ourselves in status..whether it be race, religion, sex, orientation, or class…

    Since the birth of this country, caucasions have always reigned supreme.. In my opinion, racism will never go away unless ALL people are equally represented in government. I say lets affirmative actionize (yes I know thats not a word lol) every political office.. not only equal numbers of whites and blacks..but latinos, asians..and etc…

    Until that happens racism will continue because we have given on race cart blanche of the entire country.

  4. I agree with you whole heartdly however this particular incident I really am not sure if it was racial or just two male egos. I think that Professor Gates had a rude awakening to find out that although he had all of those degrees and was highly respected through the academic community he is still and African American. The police officer was originally trying to investigate a home invasion but once approached by Professor Gates who did not humble himself because he had just arrived home from a long trip really agitated the officer. I think the officer wanted more from Professor Gates then the incident warrented. Once the officer realized this was the Professors home that really ended the situation. Racisim is real in United States and until we really address it we will continue to have these incidents and more “Beer Summits” at the White House.

  5. Racism is often called a cancer on society. And like most cancer even after radiation and chemotherapy, it can years later be found hiding in blood cells and reappear with a vengeance.

    President Obama is a consummate politician, every move he makes is calculated with a view to Obama 2.0- his second term.

    I would expect not less from him than to CYA around an issue that not only could alienate part of his constituency but also alienate the part of his constituency that is historically know for campaign financial support and independently moving between the parties.

    A beer in the White House? If only it were that simple!

  6. I do believe this is a clear example of how much of a “sickness” racism still is in this country. But this episode highlights not only racism but prejudice which people of ALL races have. It was nothing but prejudice that caused the neighbors to call the police in the first place to report a break in. Why didn’t Professor Gates’ neighbors recognize him? The fact is, when they saw a black man trying to force his way into a house in an affluent neighborhood, they got nervous…but the reverse is also true, because when a black man is stopped driving a nice car in a rough part of town by a white police officer…they get nervous. If Sgt. Crowley had arrived at the house to find a white man trying to get into his own house who later even showed his Harvard id, the situation would’ve been very different…we need to open our eyes and stop trying to deny something that is right in front of our faces. The problem will never be solved if we never admit that the problem still exists.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s