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.