29 July 2009

So I'm A Race-Relations Expert?

Emphatically... NOT!

But in a way we're all students, aren't we? Most of us want our lives to get better, and realize if it gets better for our neighbor it will, by osmosis, get better for us too. Some, as has been made very, very obvious in the last week, profit from racial tension and are perfectly happy with racial discord.
Some have been profiting from it all their lives.
When Obama was elected President, one of the few things that gave me a glimmer of hope about the future was his promise to "be a uniter".
Well he sure dropped the ball during the clutch play, didn't he?!

Two things happened to me almost simultaneously several years back...
I got a telephone call from a prospective helicopter student. From the outset of the call it was obvious the guy was a black man... cadence, accent, word usage, sentence structure... all indicated "I'm a black man".
Okay, I have no problem with that... his money was green and he wanted to share it with me. He sounded like an intelligent dude. Let's go flying...

We did, and he was... black, and intelligent.

Almost the same night I happened upon a British movie titled
"Secrets and Lies". It portrays a black English woman who knows she is adopted and is searching for her birth mother.
This is a wonderful movie, well written, directed, and acted, and I recommend it to you. But one thing struck me about it... at their first meeting, after several telephone conversations, the woman's birth mother is surprised that the daughter is Black...
Apparently in Great Britain
, Blacks don't have their own "talk". (This was verified by my lead pilot, who was born and raised in Bristol, England.)

So what's the advantage of "Black English" here in the U.S.?

Some Blacks in the U.S. make fun of others for "talking White".
Bill Cosby, trying to point out how counterproductive this is for job seekers, has been called an "Uncle Tom".
Blacks want to maintain a "Black culture", and that's fine...
It's been a long, ugly road for Blacks to reach this point in history, where an African-American can be elected to the highest office in the land. Black folks have a right to be proud.

But even the term "African-American" is a divider, isn't it?

As a White man I bristle at some things:
The Congressional Black Caucus,
Black Entertainment Television,
Miss "Black America",
The National Association of Black Journalists,
The Urban League,
The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives...
And on and on and on.
Let's talk about true equality here...
Where are the similar "White" organizations?
...Oh, I see... that would be RACIST, wouldn't it? Then why aren't these Black organizations racist?
My simple answer? In my opinion they are, and yet we tolerate,

no... cultivate them.

Are you familiar with
Brown Vs. The Board of Education?
(I took just enough Law in college to be dangerous.)
In that decision, the Supremes decided that "Separate", by definition, meant "Unequal".
So by separating themselves with all these "Black" organizations...
Separating themselves even by their easily identifiable manner of speaking, for whatever reason, many Blacks seem to prefer this inequality.

And now comes Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr...
A man who, as a Harvard Professor, has reached a pinnacle few of us can hope to achieve, and he's claiming discrimination because of color. Horribly, when Barack Obama had a chance to make this a "Teachable moment" he failed miserably, because his entire life had been devoted to fortifying the "separateness" of Blacks by reinforcing organizations like those listed above.

Here's my open letter to the man who got the most votes for POTUS in the last election:

Mr. Obama-
You now have the chance to truly lead.
You can, as you promised, be a "uniter". You have a moment in history and a pulpit from which to give us the "Change" you promised. You now can make a bigger impact on our society than even the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr..
Let's move away from the racial profiteering and divisiveness of the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
Let's move away from "Separate but equal".

Because as an Attorney you know better than most...
Separate, by definition, is NOT equal.
Please, don't waste this moment.

UPDATE: 1738 hours-
Fellow Harvard Professor Ruth R. Wisse, in "An open letter to Henry Louis Gates" asks the Professor what advantage he thought he'd gain by "talking black".


jinksto said...

Personally, I hate this debate. It's been turned into something that it, in my opinion, wasn't at our expense for the glorification of a very few people. Gates deserved what he got, full stop. Even the conciliatory stance of, "Well, both sides got a little sidetracked" is an insult. This man verbally attacked and insulted a police officer who was in the course of his duty and was arrested for it. The debate of anything else is a farce.

That said, it HAS been turned into a racial issue by the profiteers of racism and now that this has been done your words make a lot of sense.

I am a southerner at heart. We too have our own language and culture. That said, I work for one of the largest banks in America. My language is cultivated and changed when I do that work. I pepper my speech with "aint" and "reckon" when the color is needed or appreciated but at the same time, I have to operate at a level above my peers on the technical side. I can't be separate but equal. I have to balance the "ignorant redneck" speech with exceptional technical skills or turn it off completely when I'm in particular company. I don't have a problem with separate but when we separate we'd better be ready to impress on another side in order to provide balance. There must be balance and expecting someone else to lower themselves to your level in order to get that balance is not a winning proposition.

OlePrairiedog said...

One of the issues here in our town, is an ongoing argument between the Chamber of Commerce and the "Hispanic Chamber of Commerce". Different part of the country, Same separate but equal or not quite equal issues. One exception, however, many members of the Hispanic chamber and thier families, NOT EVEN CITIZENS. Odd that that is tolerated.

cary said...

He done missed the boat on the "teachable moment" about the time he used the pejorative "stupidly" with respect to the actions of the LEO, in my opinion.

What he taught was that twenty plus years of listening to anti-white attack sermons by Jeremiah Wright (i won't even insult the other reverends in the world by adding that title to his name) will cause you to automatically assume that the white dude be in the wrong, bro - that's all there is to it.

As far as "blackness" talk - it's an affectation that only serves to divide, not unite, and underline the difference between the races.

Bob Barbanes said...

Gates deserved what he got, full stop.

In the words of Sam Donaldson, hold on there, Mr. Jinksto! Gates deserved what he got? Who made YOU judge, jury and executioner?

So far, it's a he said/she said. Gates got arrested. Okay. Let's wait until it all comes out in court, shall we? Let's see what the witnesses have to say before we say that it was 100% Gates' fault.

If the case ever gets to court (and it would have to be Gates' lawsuit against the Cambridge cops) and it comes out that the witnesses back up Officer Crowley's story, then we can vilify Gates as the racist.

We still don't know the full story. And I'm not ready to convict Gates just yet. It's funny (to me, at least) how many people are. But racism is still alive and well in this country. The black guy *must* be wrong, eh? Because the cops say so, eh?

jinksto said...

You have a good point Bob but I don't agree with your assumptions anymore than you agree with mine.

Executioner? Nice!

In the radio tapes provided by the police department you don't hear anger in Crowley's voice. You don't really hear anything beyond exacting professionalism and, almost, boredom. He was a cop, trying to help a guy out and the guy went off on him. Admittedly the tapes don't provide the whole story but the other officers involved backed him 100%.

An arrest, many times and especially with disturbing the peace charges, is simply a way to diffuse the situation. It shuts down the anger and gives people time to reconsider their actions. There's no malice involved, no hate, no "race relations". There's nothing more than a cop in a tough situation making the best decisions that he can. Many times, making those decisions based on training and experience.

Just the act of being arrested and booked for many people are enough to give them pause. Even if convicted, the charge is only a misdemeanor and hardly more damaging then a traffic ticket.

People have been picking Crowley's actions and the wording in his reports apart with exacting care... more care, I suspect, than he used in writing them. They scream that he's "covering up" something and are forgetting (or maybe they aren't) that those reports were written well before this became a media circus. He was a cop at the end of his shift writing up an incident. Probably one of many incidents that he dealt with that day. When he wrote them there was nothing to cover up. Just another guy that he had to arrest that day for doing something stupid.

Sorry, I've dealt with too many cops in too many situations to assume that this was anything more than a boring arrest before the media got a hold of it. Yes, there are racists out there. Yes, some of them are cops. That doesn't mean that this cop was and it certainly doesn't mean that the problem is systemic. What I've seen of Crowley's record proves (to me) that he's not. His actions since this "went national" have been better than any I've seen. He's handling the press better than Obama does and he's sticking to his story. He's not going off on tirades about how he is being mistreated and attacked. He's not grandstanding on the morning shows. He's just a cop, a real professional, dealing with the attacks of a racist nation. He deserves our respect, admiration and support. He has mine.

cary said...

jinksto has hit the point square on the head - the one person acting most maturely here is the one being called everything but a babykiller.

My admiration for police officers has gone up a notch - which means, since it was already hitting eleven, I have to write in another calibration point on the dial.

Janus said...

What if a police officer, in your home, failed to ID himself, and then arrested you for not committing a crime?
What do you think would happen to you if you were not a wealthy and respected college professor in an academic upper class community?
In the United States, the purpose of having police is not to arrest a short crippled old grouch, in broad daylight, for not committing a crime; the purpose of having police, in the United States, is to protect our freedom, including the grouch.
Police 1; Freedom 0.

Greybeard said...

What if you're an obnoxious little racist operating a phony charity out of your home and you have to file an amended tax return before you go to jail for tax evasion, Janus?

cary said...

If a police officer was in my home and failed to identify himself as such, he just made himself a target for some 2A home defense.

If the police officer was in uniform, he wouldn't really need to ID himself, if he showed up and asked for my ID as I was trying to break in my own front door.

If I was not a wealthy and respected college professor in an academic upper class community, I would expect the officer to ask me for my ID and then I would thank him for doing his job.

The LAST thing I would do is tell the officer that I would be talkin' to his momma out side... while screaming that this is what happens to the black man in America and not identifying myself with proper ID!

Ya may wanna sit down and listen to all the evidence before trying to bake up some half-fast liberal excuse for Gates, Janus.

Flightfire said...

I like that post Greybeard. I agree with you. I don't think I'm a racist, some of my best friends are black. What I don't like is their culture. I'll respect it and let them have it, but I don't really enjoy being around it.

I think we have to be careful when we try to generalize and lump every person with that skin color into that culture. That's what I try to avoid.

cj said...

Oh, Janus, time to step away from the 'all police are racist, rights stomping, black-booted thugs' kool aid.

First, an officer in uniform, with the badge, the radio, the patrol, the gun, and all the other equipment we carry really isn't required to do much more in the way of identification.

Second, the arrest took place outside of Gates's home. The poor, down-trodden proffessor chose to follow that evil police officer outside in order to continue his over the top rant.

Third, Sgt. Crowley did everything he could to diffuse the situation and finally had to act.

And finally, I have a question for you - have we really gotten to the point in this country where police officers are going to be called racist for simply asking a black person for identification? What's the alternative - people of color get a free pass from law enforcement?


Inspector Clouseau said...

Every country deals with race differently. The two biggest mistakes in American history once one gets beyond slavery: (1) forced integration by court rulings; you can’t force people to want to associate with, get along, or respect you; and (2) affirmative action; no matter how one looks at it, it smacks of unfairness and does not make people respect you. What we have today is simply the long-term ramification of bad racial policies. As for the Harvard Professor incident....