Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Still Alive And Well

I came across two news stories today that made it clear how flawed our society still is, how the old prejudices continue to taint our reactions, however subtly.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a prominent scholar and Harvard chaired professor was arrested last Thursday by a police officer at his own home a few blocks off the Harvard campus. The scary thing isn't that a woman called 911 to report 2 black males trying to break into a house. They were. Of course, it was his own house and he and his driver (he was coming home from a trip to China to film a PBS documentary) were having to force the jammed front door open, but you can understand why it may have looked suspicious.

The sad part was that when it came to the verbal confrontation between he and the police officer, even after Professor Gates showed photo identity proving who he was, he was still judged to be out of line. I wonder how the officer would have reacted to an angry, non-black man yelling at him for being assumed to be breaking into his own house. He might have gotten angry himself, but would he have arrested that almost 60 year old man, a Harvard professor, on his own front porch?

The second article's headline by the New York Times says it all - "New Jersey G.O.P. Candidate Picks Woman as His No. 2". Really? Still? We may have a black man as President, but the idea of a woman in a position of power is still surprising enough to warrant this kind of headline? I'm giving the NYT the benefit of the doubt because... well, because it's the New York Times! As my BIL would probably say, the bastion of liberal propaganda. That's why I love it! All humor aside though, it still got my goat... it just felt condescending.


Niamh Griffin said...

I've been reading about what happened to Henry Gates as well, and while I agree that anyone breaking into a house looks suspicious, it's such an over-reaction. And shouldn't the neighbour have known who lives in the house anyhow??
And I'd say if you're waiting till the day anything women do isn't prefaced with ' look, it's a woman doing this!' mmmm, could be a long wait!
Enjoy U2 :)

aulelia said...

The Gates thing is so shocking!!

Gloria said...

Reminds me of the time in London when the police almost arrested my 15 year old son because it appeared he couldn't believe a young black teenager could live in a house that looked as good as ours and in such a nice street even though he was dressed in school uniform and was entering his home with a key!!

It's my first visit to your blog and it appears to be full of interesting things I'm wanting to read and debate.

I've just started a blog as a black Londoner living in Spain. I'm going to be your follower number 15. Hope you drop by and feel that you'd like to follow me!!

Sirmelja said...

U2 was great, Niamh. I really need to post some pics.

Glad you found me Gloria. I'll definitely check out your blog. Living in Spain must be so great!