As in a tasty mix of talk

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Knock Knock. Who's There? Race Card. Race Card Who?

GUEST RANT by Nikole Slocum

Okay, let’s say you grew up as an intelligent young black man in the 60s, 70s and 80s. We all KNOW that you experienced racism, which hurts very deeply. Then you come from what we like to call the “ghetto” or “inner city,” but you are smart so you get yourself through the school system. You play by all the rules, you don’t break the law and you work hard. Maybe you take advantage of scholarship funds specifically geared toward minorities, maybe you don’t. (Let’s face it, there are scholarships for everything from test scores to being left-handed) so I don’t see the beef here.)

Anyway, if you are Henry Louis Gates Jr., you not only graduate from college, you become a respected professor at Harvard University. You are a good citizen, and basically lead a successful life. Then one day you get locked out of your house…crap!!! Where are those keys? You fumble around your car looking for them and decide you will try to enter through a window. Then the cops come.

After explaining, look, this is where I live, I am locked out, let me show you my ID, harsh words are exchanged. You already are irritated… wouldn’t YOU be irritated if you were exhausted after a sleepless, international flight, and then lost your darn keys? So, maybe you aren’t nice, maybe one of the cops doesn’t believe that this indeed is your house. Maybe he is just an asshole and would react the same to anyone… Or, maybe he is racist and doesn’t realize it, or maybe he realizes it but doesn’t care. Either way it goes… what are you going to think if you are the law abiding, college educated professor who got locked out of his house (irritating enough) and now you are getting arrested? WTF?!?!?! Wouldn’t you perhaps wonder, “Would this cop arrest me if I weren’t black?”

The facts are clear. Professor Gates PROVED he did indeed live in the house he entered through a window. And the cops DID arrest him for disorderly conduct. Maybe the exhausted professor was in a bad mood… but cops should be trained to deal with that kind of attitude, without over reacting. I am not the happiest camper in the world when I get pulled over for a rolling stop or expired tags, etc. But if I am not “nice” to the cop, if I don’t, in his opinion, display the proper respect, does that mean I should be arrested for disorderly conduct?

In this situation, it appears that emotions escalated on both sides… but with an all-American twist. For a moment, let’s take “RACE” out of the equation. How irate would YOU feel in a similar situation??? Black, white or brown, we all would have to pay court fees, waste valuable time going to court, and worry about appearances… even if, as was the case with professor Gates, all charges were dropped. (Perhaps the authorities dropped all charges in this instance because they agreed with President Obama that the police “behaved stupidly.”)

The law enforcement justification that crime is more likely to occur in certain areas is irrelevant in this case, because it occurred in a respectable, middle-class neighborhood. If you want to argue that there is more crime in “poorer” areas of town, I would be inclined to agree… but for sociological reasons that have more to do with lack of education and opportunity than with skin color. As for the argument that minorities are inherently inclined to commit more crimes, this is patently RACIST.

So, I say to everyone whining that Professor Gates is playing the race card… get off your high horse and face reality! (If you don’t believe that cops treat blacks and whites differently, you are lying to the world AND to yourself.)

The President, when asked about the incident, BEGAN his answer with, “I cannot answer without first making it clear I am biased in this situation, he is a friend of mine.” Nonetheless, the right wing media went crazy over his remark. As a result, the vitally important issue of HEALTH CARE REFORM was lost in the controversy. Since Republicans have a long and shameful history of tapping racial fears to manipulate public opinion, I ask you… who is playing the “race card” here?


Blogger San Diego Farmgirl said...

Bravo, Nik! Not only was this a race issue, but it brings up another issue: general abuse of power. Cops consider themselves military, and the rest of us 'civilians', lower on the status pole than they are, less deserving of constitutional and human rights. They believe they have the right to arrest anyone, at anytime, for anything, including 'not being nice' to them. And if they show up at your house, you have zero rights.

Had this happened in Los Angeles, I think they would have arrested Dr. Gates had he been white and behaved that way. But, had he been white, I doubt that neighbor would have called the cops. I mean, c'mon! He's your neighbor and you don't know what he looks like or if that's his car in the driveway? Not buying it, lady. I think she acted stupidly, too.

7:09 AM

Blogger San Diego Farmgirl said...

Not to sound like a broken record, but if we'd turn off the TV and/or radio, that conservative press would have less power. Don't let those SOBs push your buttons! They're paid to do it, to stir up this kind of thing (cops are racist - this is news?) so, like you said, we ignore the real issues. Think about how often you use 'distraction techniques' on your kids when you need to get things accomplished without their interference. It works on adults too, ya know! haha If the TV show is entertaining enough, we fall for it, too.

7:16 AM

Blogger Yakpate said...

Republicans will take a LOT of convincing that there is no longer a political benefit to racial fear mongering.

Our national demographics indicate that Hispanic and Black populations are outnumbering whites. But in my opinion, that's beside the point. I think racism and bigotry are dwindling. Yes, there are still hot spots of racism, not just in the South but everywhere, including California. But to pay serious attention to these remnants of hatred and ignorance is to dwell in the past.

8:35 AM

Anonymous Roy said...

Oh please!! It's okay for Gates to have had a bad day, be tired from his trip or whatever and then taunt the cop by yelling arrest me, but it's not okay if the cop had had a bad day prior to his run in with Gates?

You think the cop isn't acutely aware of the ramifications of anything he does or says when it comes to interactions with minorities?

Please! I'm so tired of everyone "playing" the race card anytime there is a disagreement between a white person and a minority\!

9:03 AM

Anonymous NikkiS said...

That is because you are not a "minority" and you have never had to feel like less of a human being due to someone's complete ignorance and lack of respect toward you...just because of your skin color.

9:23 AM

Anonymous NikkiS said...

Do you ever read the comments on AOL news or CNN news online...??? Blatently racist...that is because nobody knows who they are when they comment on there....COWARDS....

9:24 AM

Blogger Roy said...

There are lots of ways to be a minority... perhaps yes I do no know what it feels like to be discriminated against just because of my skin color, but I do know what it feels like to be picked last for a sport in school because of the way I looked or dressed.. isn't that a form of discrimination?

Look, I get my simple experiences don't equate to a life time of discrimination based on skin color, but do not assume I cannot identify with a person just because my skin is white. I have empathy for anyone who is discriminated against, regardless of the reason (over weight people get the short end of the stick all the time)...I'm just saying that when different skin colors are involved in an issue it seems to be an automated response of "It's racism." And I believe that's not always the case.

9:39 AM

Anonymous NikkiS said...

I agree with you on the over-weight thing...completely! It sucks...but I think being picked last in school does not equate with...maybe I should change my name on my resume to a more "white" sounding name...if I want to get a call for the know?

9:49 AM

Anonymous San Diego Farmgirl said...

Roy, when you walk through a parking lot, do you hear the 'click click click' of people hurriedly locking their doors to protect themselves against you? Do mall cops follow you everywhere, regardless of your age, social standing or behavior? Have you ever been pulled over simply for driving a new car? These things happen to black men EVERY SINGLE DAY all across America, regardless of how baggy their pants are, how old they are, or what they do for a living. If you don't realize that, you need to spend more time with people of color. I don't know what else to say other than you obviously haven't experienced this yourself. You're a compassionate person, I know if you spent just one day walking in a black man's shoes, you'd have a very different opinion!

12:14 PM

Blogger Roy said...


I was a long hair remember? And my hair was long well after the time it was cool to have long hair. I was discriminated against on numerous occasions just because of my hair and appearance. Granted, I could and did cut my hair and you can't just change your skin color but I still resent how I was treated just be cause of my please no more lectures...I do get it. But I still say the race card gets played way too easily and way too often.

12:59 PM

Blogger Yakpate said...

Roy: I think the major point Nikki was making is that, in this case, it wasn't Professor Gates who played the race card... it was the right-wing media. Stirring up the very controversy played out on this post is their objective... because as long as our emotions are snagged by the issue of race, we won't pay attention to the REAL issue... this nation's desperate ned for a health care overhaul.

1:53 PM

Blogger Roy said...

@ Pat...okay., I perceived the discussion much different...sounds like I was mistaken... certainly would agree that there has been way too much made of this and that it certainly has taken away from the all important healthcare subject.

But to switch gears a little, what should we expect? I mean, here we are in the middle of the most successful component of the stimulus program, otherwise known as cash for Clunkers and two Dems, one of which in Feinstein, don't want to approve more funding because they want the more fuel efficient numbers applied to the program. For the third time today I say PLEASE!!!! And don't even get me started on the asshole Republican who's on the airwaves complaing we shouldn't be doing this because what about all the other companies we are not subsidizing.

Our elected leaders are just so stupid and pig headed sometimes...we finally get something going in this country after 20+ months of malaise and they want to stop it? At least we are getting a lot of crap of the road ( and at least marginally improving fuel economy), but rather then make some small improvement, they want to shut the whole thing down because the improvement isn't what they want. I used to like Diane... but not so much anymore. God, the Dems control everything right now and whether it is Health reform or the Clunkers program we can't even come to agreement within our own party. Seriously, if they keep this shit up I'm voting for the legalize pot party next time least they have a good reason for not remembering what the conversation is all about.

2:36 PM

Anonymous San Diego Farmgirl said...

Roy, you're a born rebel - admit it, you love sticking it to the man! haha

2:37 PM

Anonymous San Diego Farmgirl said...

For the most part, I think Democrats and Republicans care more about their legacy and the politics of DC than their constituents. Roy, we'd love to have you in the Libertarian party, where citizens are responsible for themselves, and you have the right to do whatever you want, provided it doesn't harm another. Toke on, brotha! ;o)

2:44 PM

Blogger Roy said...

Farmgirl...thanks for the invite....I have foot over the line already and will likely see you in the Lib party if only I had short term memory...what was the name of your party?

And the real irony is that the Dems/Repubs leagacy will be that they royaly F'd up the country during their rule. Sad but true.

3:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No more division please. We all cry tears and we all shed blood, regardless of race or political party. All this talk of race in the news is meant to further divide us: Democrat, Republican, Liberal, Black, White, Gay, Straight, legal, illegal, Red, Blue, Green.

The fact is $24 trillion dollars has been spent, but nobody will tell the people exactly where it all went.

First bailout was by Bush, remember? Rush Limbaugh forgot all about it. The second was by Obama. The media will use race all day long to hide the fact that we are ALL under FASCISM and that the president really isn't in charge of anything.

Think about it, what's changed? Oh that's right, we have another war, I almost forgot! THE PRESIDENT RUNS NOTHING! FOREIGN BANKS DO! Presidents (Right and Left) are bought and paid for by those same foreign banks that also profit from wars! That's why we get "NO CHANGE"!

I have hung out with mostly black people my whole life and they are profiled and unfairly treated, but since when was this top news? It happens every single day to black people, and nobody cared until there's another story to hide. Like, how about $24 Trillion missing dollars? If we gave Jesus a million dollars everyday from the time he was born to now he wouldn't have that much. Our children's children will be in debt and we fight about petty stuff. Be mad about that! Turn off the propaganda and hug your brother and sister. Educate yourselves and others about the New World Order!

12:31 PM

Blogger stacyj said...

Very well said Nicole.

11:12 AM


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