Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Get To Know the Brother That Lives Across the Street

I have seen confrontations like the one between Dr. Gates and the Cambridge police department. It happens a lot but the other men are not world renowned professors at Harvard so you don't hear about it. There is nothing more defiant than a middle aged black man that knows he's not a criminal and is being questioned by the police. It's a life experience thing that I don't even understand. Some police officers can ignore most of that and some can't. It's possible Dr. Gates went off at the idea he had to prove he was walking into his own house. He might have used one of those names older black men use to describe police or white people and the officer got upset. I wasn't there so I don't know for sure.

I want to talk about the fact that one of his neighbors called 911. I know good and well if you live in the same area with a Harvard professor who has been all over the television for helping black people find their native countries you know what he looks like. If someone is giving you a ride home and pass his house you point out of the window and say "That's where Dr. Gates live". We did it with Fats Domino. Everyone in the Lower Ninth Ward could take you to Fats Domino house. I doubt that a 58 year old black man on a cane is going to start his crime spree in Cambridge. Whoever made that phone call was just being paranoid. Please get to know your black neighbors so we don't have these kind of problems.


K. said...


Your observation about people knowing what Dr. Gates looks like rings especially true for Cambridge, which is the Beverly Hills of famous academics.

Leigh C. said...

I just hate that they couldn't leave the man alone even after he'd shown ID that clearly had his name and address on it. After that, it was all intimidation.

And it's idiotic that this woman had no clue who he was. Getting to know what Dr Gates at least looks like is not that hard.

Maitri said...


This pisses me off so much I can't get the frown off my face. Because it reminds me of how people look at me when I walk into my house in a predominantly white neighborhood. What's a brown girl doing there?

How long do we have to prove ourselves before people understand white is not the cultural norm? I'm sick of it.

sussah said...

I'm glad about what President Obama said Wed. night about this. If he had been softer in his word selection, other people would have criticized that. The case is very cut-and-dried, it's just outrageous. To me, the original villain was the neighbor who called 911. Then the police made a bad situation worse.
Our first reaction to this whole story was that in N.O. we must have made a small bit of progress in race relations, compared to Boston. sp, n.o.

Leigh C. said...

Reading comments on Boston.com about Dr Gates' story when it first broke was like dipping right back into nola.com. When comments are not moderated, the toxic brew that spews up when people think their anonymity can cloak who they really are is disgusting and disgraceful.