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 The Gates Affair and Race in America

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Herzl

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PostSubject: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:24 pm

I always resented that my parents didn't teach me about racism. America is a melting pot that has taken pride not only in that fact, but also in the distinguishing of people by their 'race,' consider the one drop rule brought forward to now. It is taught and ingrained into our culture and society to see the person as part of a 'race.'

My first lessons in 'race' were in high school. I was impressed that while I set the curve I got a grade less, my best friend, who was white would score 92 and get an A+ and with a 96, the best I could do was a B+. While I had a documented extremely high IQ, my drafting teacher said I had no mechanical ability. While I played multiple instruments, including piano, and knew musical theory, another good friend who I was coaching, a fair but not even a particularly good player, also white, was chosen as student bandleader over me. For some reason.

When a situation arises that I feel is unjust, these and other memories cross my mind, every time.

On the other hand, had I not gone to a 'Black' school, another of my great ideas, I might not know for a fact that mean and petty people of any 'race' will find a way to do whatever damage they can to people they have decided they don't like, for any or no cause. I've been disliked as intently for being intelligent and articulate as I ever was for not being white, for not being Black, or for my religion. By all sorts of people. My sixth grade school teacher told me that if I could stop using so many 'big words,' and learn some tact, I'd do better in life. I still have no tact. Go figure.

My father was always trying to help some 'disadvantaged' denizen. This, while they were laughing at him behind his back. He had an expression, 'never feed a pothound (talking about stray dogs), you'll never get rid of it.' At the same time, feeding human pothounds was something he insisted on doing, regardless of any costs to his own family. When I heard about the deriding 'Hymietown' statement, I recalled ultimate payments of blood and life for all human justice by my 'race,' for their 'race.' He was feeding human and later real pothounds to the end. I haven't been as faithful to this memory of him as he'd have hoped: If conservatism weren't so bound up with racism, the sound they made as they shoved us into the ovens, I might be one.

Racism is an infectious disease. If you've lived in a place like Oklahoma, you know that everyone is at best in recovery. One day at a time. One person at a time. Moment to moment. Racism is like the dust in the air. You may not see it until you look at its accumulation. On all sides. Everywhere.

I'm reminded of professor John Forbes Nash Jr. with schizophrenia from 'A Beautiful Mind' transposed. I have a lifetime of learning not to judge people by their race. The thought may cross my mind that racism or anti-Semitism is involved in a conflict or what I perceive as an injustice, but I have over time developed the ability to decide to set that thought aside and use my intelligent mind, my super-ego rather than my id in looking at the situation. My uneducated guess is that the esteemed professor Gates' id overtook his rational mind, and the ghosts of George Brewer, Mrs. Blackburn, Gerald Lawless, and Mr. Beuby, overwhelmed his good reason. For some reason.

We all need to try to take that chip off our shoulder, of wounds easily opened at a moments lack of notice. And, failing that, recognize that it is there and try not to let it control our actions.
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PostSubject: Re: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Sat Jul 25, 2009 9:28 am

Good post! I think racism in this day and age is a byproduct of our worldview as it has been colored by the actions of others. By that I don't mean it's colored by impressions of the actions of "The other race", but by those of our own race who are close to us.

When I was a kid we lived in what was basically an all white middle class town. My dad was from the south and made semi frequent racial comments - usually in a comical form, heavy on the "N" word. Not a lot mind you, but often enough that the idea of them as being unsavory types sank in. Then of course the neighbor kids used it all the time in derogatory manner, and it was a standard epithet of sorts. But, I never even met a black person until I was in high school. There was a brother and sister there, they were quiet and polite. Confused me, they didn't fit the stereotype. Then when I went to college I experienced a multitude of different races and began dating a Mexican girl who I eventually married. I learned real quick that Dr. King was right, it's about the content of character, not color. I have known countless assholes of many races and countless very good people of many races and have found that color or background is not the factor by which one should make early judgements of people. What comes out of their mouths certainly is......

The issue of race seems to be a need to overcome what we take in from our environment, and using instead a reasonable personal measure - what kind of person is this? I have met enough "White niggers" to know that a nigger - as the common definition seems to infer - is a certain type of person who thrills in being a self degrading, disrespectful ass and the term has little to do with skin color anymore. If any term in our lifetime has taken a bigger turn in it's meaning, I don't know what it is. Today the term has little to do with color, so I refuse to acknowledge it as a commentary on ethnicity.

Hope this hasn't offended anyone, but it seemed definitely worth saying bluntly.

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PostSubject: Re: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:49 pm

We all run around as though 'racism' were something peculiar to America, or that America was the only nation to ever practice slavery. Neither is true, not is everything that gets labeled 'racist' is actually racist.

I think the 'racist' mindset is born of mostly distrust, sometimes by up bringing, sometimes by personal experience, other times by a deep seated character flaw, where ever it starts, it quickly finds fertile soil in the human heart on any side of the 'ethnic aisle' by the players of European, African, Hispanic, Arabic, Persian, Jewish, Russian, Asian or nearly any ethnic make up you can imagine.

On either side of any ethnic divide one can speak of, you have 'extremists' and 'champions' who find ready made 'issues' with which to further their cause; the most present example being the Gates vs the Cambridge Police Department affair. Gates alleges racism while he is being questioned (at least from reading the police report and statements of witnesses including a black police officer at the scene) almost immediately Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson called the arrest an outrageous act of racial profiling. President Obama unfortunately jumped on the band wagon, referring to the Cambridge police department as having acted 'stupidly', and then going on for several minutes about race and the police problems.

Does anyone believe that such behavior is constructive, or serves any cause OTHER than to keep 'racism' alive and well? We ALL suffer greatly by such inflammatory rhetoric being spewed all the time.

I hope that the tapes of radio and audio of the arrest are made public, so that we get a better sense of what really happened ... and let the chips fall where they may.

We as a people (the human race on planet Earth) have a long way to go. We need leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and William Wilberforce who can reach into that gulf between us all and help pull us together, not firebrands who live only to remind us yet again of open festering wounds.


Last edited by kilted1 on Mon Jul 27, 2009 3:32 am; edited 2 times in total
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Puff Daddy
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PostSubject: Re: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Sat Jul 25, 2009 3:31 pm

Well said Kilt. I have a feeling that Obama will be backpedalling rather quickly on this one........

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PostSubject: Re: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Sat Jul 25, 2009 4:20 pm

Puff Daddy wrote:
Well said Kilt. I have a feeling that Obama will be backpedalling rather quickly on this one........

I sincerely hope for the good of our nation that Obama does more than back off, I hope he offers especially policemen an apology, not a side stepping acknowledgment of errors on both sides. I think a direct and frank apology is in order, and would go a long way in leading both sides to ratcheting down their rhetoric. There is no winning this fight as long as only one side gains 'victory'. Obama and Gates above all should know that, the arresting officer should also.
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Rad Davis

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PostSubject: Re: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Sat Jul 25, 2009 6:47 pm

kilted1 wrote:
Puff Daddy wrote:
Well said Kilt. I have a feeling that Obama will be backpedalling rather quickly on this one........

I sincerely hope for the good of our nation that Obama does more than back off, I hope he offers especially policemen an apology, not a side stepping acknowledgment of errors on both sides. I think a direct and frank apology is in order, and would go a long way in leading both sides to ratcheting down their rhetoric. There is no winning this fight as long as only one side gains 'victory'. Obama and Gates above all should know that, the arresting officer should also.

Anyone who's ever watched even one episode of "Cops" know that rule #1 is "Do what the police ask/tell you to do." They'll always listen to you when they're sure they are in control of the situation. They don't like it when their requests are met with attitude, because they never know at first just who or what they're dealing with.

I was stopped by the police one Saturday afternoon after I had left home on my motorcycle, got about half a block away and realized I had forgotten my wallet.

I circled the block, went down my driveway, into the house, came back out and took off again. Little did I know that a cop had been watching me as I entered and left my driveway.

He followed me and pulled me over. I was incensed! Here I was leaving my own house and this guy had the unmitigated gall to ask me what I was doing leaving that house back there in such a hurry. I showed him my I.D. and he realized I lived there and said I could go on my way.

After I got over being incensed, I realized the guy had no way of knowing who I was and was actually just doing his job. If I had been a burglar, I would have been caught. Smile

I don't think the Cambridge officer's actions had anything to do with race. he was investigating a possible break-in at a residence, and his job was to check they guys he found there to see if they were who they said they were. When you get in a cop's face, you shouldn't expect to be treated with great respect.



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Bub

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PostSubject: Re: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:56 pm

We all profile in one way or another.
Profiling is a form of inductive reasoning. As Wikipedia says:"Induction or inductive reasoning, sometimes called inductive logic, is reasoning which takes us "beyond the confines of our current evidence or knowledge to conclusions about the unknown"
When you encounter something new, don't you try to put it in a familiar box? Where do you live, where do you work, what pipe do you smoke, what is your favorite tobacco etc...?
Do you have an opinion of someone who smokes aromatic tobacco in a corn cob and their avitar is an old newsman who died of lung cancer? Do you have a different opinion of someone whose avitar is a debonair gentleman who smokes the latest GLP blend in a Dunhill?
I think that the problem comes when someone puts you in a box and you feel that you don't belong in that box.
On the other hand maybe there shouldn't be boxes.
Then you have this:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/opinion/25blow.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper
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Number 6

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PostSubject: Re: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:38 pm

This is less an issue of race than one of how much deference the police are owed.
And that's a whole different discussion.
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PostSubject: Re: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:38 pm

Bub wrote:
I think that the problem comes when someone puts you in a box and you feel that you don't belong in that box.
On the other hand maybe there shouldn't be boxes.

Profiling, Boxes or Labels. I've always had a problem with being labeled a certain way, (as well as my own labeling of others). I guess it's the same thing just different terminology. I recoil when my dad makes racist comments about the President or any other person of color. But then when the local news reports crimes committed by blacks my first reaction is "stupid N*****". Now mind you I don't feel this way about "law abiding" blacks just the ones involved in shootouts, murders & rapes. Of course I give equal billing to the "stupid rednecks" who do the same things but are white.
I guess that's one reason I like Clint Eastwoods new movie Gran Torino. In it are Clint's character's (Walt) interactions with all the different races around him in modern Detroit, shows how foolish it is to judge solely by the race of another. Another movie with a similar message on race is Crash, if your into movies check it out.
Let us live by what Forest Gump used to say "Stupid is, as stupid does".
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Centurian 803
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PostSubject: Re: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:25 pm

I've been a police officer for thirty-six years. When I first started on the job we had several racist officers. They didn't hide it and they were terrible. They disgusted me. Thirty-six years later things have changed. I'm the dinosaur on the department and I don't know of any of our officers who is a racist. But still we, all too often, hear, "you're just doing this 'cause I'm black" or, "why aren't you over in the white neighborhood stopping people", or the converse, "you wouldn't let folks do that in the white neighborhood, why don't you give us any service?" I'd be dead wrong to say that the relationship between our department and the black community is good. I wish it were. Now we have an increasing hispanic community and many asian and other ethnic groups in town.
Down through the years I've examined (and re-examined) myself on this issue. You can only hear your a racist pig so many times before you begin to wonder if it's true. What I've concluded (subject to the error we all have of thinking better of ourselves than we should) is that I'm not a racist but a typist. I react differently to a black man dressed in a suit or casual clothes than I do to one dressed with his pants sagging to his ass. I react differently to a hispanic man in work clothes than I do to one dressed in gangbang attire with tatoos all over him. I react differently to a white guy dressed in a polo shirt and slacks than I do to one in jeans and torn biker shirt with piercings.
Obnoxious behavior irritates me and I have to constantly remind myself that just because I don't like it, doesn't make it wrong. I have to fight myself all the time to allow people to be themselves without judging them by their looks or mannerisms. Unfortunatley I often fail. It's a constant struggle to accept people who act differently from me.
Well, that's my perspective on it for what it's worth.

One thing though, I don't care what kind of pipe you smoke. You're ok with me.
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PostSubject: Re: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:31 pm

Centurian 803 wrote:
I've been a police officer for thirty-six years. When I first started on the job we had several racist officers. They didn't hide it and they were terrible. They disgusted me. Thirty-six years later things have changed. I'm the dinosaur on the department and I don't know of any of our officers who is a racist. But still we, all too often, hear, "you're just doing this 'cause I'm black" or, "why aren't you over in the white neighborhood stopping people", or the converse, "you wouldn't let folks do that in the white neighborhood, why don't you give us any service?" I'd be dead wrong to say that the relationship between our department and the black community is good. I wish it were. Now we have an increasing hispanic community and many asian and other ethnic groups in town.
Down through the years I've examined (and re-examined) myself on this issue. You can only hear your a racist pig so many times before you begin to wonder if it's true. What I've concluded (subject to the error we all have of thinking better of ourselves than we should) is that I'm not a racist but a typist. I react differently to a black man dressed in a suit or casual clothes than I do to one dressed with his pants sagging to his ass. I react differently to a hispanic man in work clothes than I do to one dressed in gangbang attire with tatoos all over him. I react differently to a white guy dressed in a polo shirt and slacks than I do to one in jeans and torn biker shirt with piercings.
Obnoxious behavior irritates me and I have to constantly remind myself that just because I don't like it, doesn't make it wrong. I have to fight myself all the time to allow people to be themselves without judging them by their looks or mannerisms. Unfortunatley I often fail. It's a constant struggle to accept people who act differently from me.
Well, that's my perspective on it for what it's worth.

One thing though, I don't care what kind of pipe you smoke. You're ok with me.

Brother,

I don't know how you do what you do for a living, really I don't ... I just thank GOD that some body like you does cheers
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Centurian 803
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PostSubject: Re: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:01 pm

Thank you K1. I appreciate that very much!
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PostSubject: Re: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:02 pm

As I was growing up, we were more afraid of the police than criminals. Generally, if you didn't associate with thugs, they were less likely to seek you out; unless you happened to be going to school with one. The geeky nerd is always a bully target, just as the jocks and the nerds in the famous movies. The police on the other hand were another matter. This was the days of diving into a ditch as you spotted their car because they might take a pot-shot at you, and sometimes did. If they were called to the Black side of town for some reason, hours would go by, several calls to be made, before they would eventually show up.

Since I have been an adult, Blacks didn't want to be out after dark in east Texas, just as was the case here in Oklahoma on the 'south side of town' for Blacks as I was growing up. All over the south, driving while Black through rural areas was an adventure in at best low-level harassment, sometimes worse. Distrust of police is a cultural norm as a result.

Police have become more professional, and are better educated and aware. Police departments have integrated. People in the community are more aware that the color of the officer is not the determinate of his character any more than anyone else. When I lived in a 'bad neighborhood,' a crack house next door and another across the street, I walked my dog with a laser-sighted stainless Mini-14, and got out of my car holding a cocked and locked 45. I developed a cooperative relationship with the police and went to their neighborhood meetings at the local station. We developed mutual 'community policing' respect. I was the neighbor who had the nerve to call them when the routine shooting was in progress.

I have tried my best to educate my nephew to avoid people who are willing to break the law, even laws he may disagree with such as smoking Marijuana. I have tried to explain that while there is history there, citizens, especially those who have a hope for a future not only embrace the police, but cast aside pre-conceived notions and conduct themselves with respect to police officers. Like all old men, I tell the story over and again, to try to make the point that things have in fact changed. On both sides. Most Black people are over-joyed that the police are in their neighborhoods, making a difference. And, that standing in a remembrance of a sordid past is not a view toward having a future. Just last night I administered this 'Learn to accept that hand of friendship.' lecture. I don't care that he may get tired of hearing it. Respect the fact that that officer came to serve and protect the good professor, who showed poor character on his own part by passing judgment, stupidly I might venture, without cause. I'd have offered him coffee and done whatever he asked to make him comfortable with his safety. Safety he is risking by being there in the first place. Just as we don't forget what happened before in the one regard, we should not forget the part against our malevolent conviction.

I doubt that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would be so silly as to insult an officer as professor Gates chose to do. They are in the business of playing to a choir. The coddled Cambridge professor was just being asinine, the geeky nerd having a chance to be a bully. I doubt race had as much to do with his being as ass as he'd like people to believe. Racism is an excuse. He lost face. It has been a learning opportunity, cooler heads being able to say that the past is past, as real as that was and still is in some places and times, but let's look to the future. With clarity.
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PostSubject: Re: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:34 am

Centurian 803 wrote:
Thank you K1. I appreciate that very much!

That is coming from a USAF Vet BTW! I still don't know how cops, firemen, and EMT's doing what they do ... and I've worked aircraft crash sites, hauling away human remains, to refrigerated trucks for transport ... I still don't know
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Centurian 803
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PostSubject: Re: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:01 am

Herzl wrote:
As I was growing up, we were more afraid of the police than criminals. Generally, if you didn't associate with thugs, they were less likely to seek you out; unless you happened to be going to school with one. The geeky nerd is always a bully target, just as the jocks and the nerds in the famous movies. The police on the other hand were another matter. This was the days of diving into a ditch as you spotted their car because they might take a pot-shot at you, and sometimes did. If they were called to the Black side of town for some reason, hours would go by, several calls to be made, before they would eventually show up.

Since I have been an adult, Blacks didn't want to be out after dark in east Texas, just as was the case here in Oklahoma on the 'south side of town' for Blacks as I was growing up. All over the south, driving while Black through rural areas was an adventure in at best low-level harassment, sometimes worse. Distrust of police is a cultural norm as a result.

Police have become more professional, and are better educated and aware. Police departments have integrated. People in the community are more aware that the color of the officer is not the determinate of his character any more than anyone else. When I lived in a 'bad neighborhood,' a crack house next door and another across the street, I walked my dog with a laser-sighted stainless Mini-14, and got out of my car holding a cocked and locked 45. I developed a cooperative relationship with the police and went to their neighborhood meetings at the local station. We developed mutual 'community policing' respect. I was the neighbor who had the nerve to call them when the routine shooting was in progress.

I have tried my best to educate my nephew to avoid people who are willing to break the law, even laws he may disagree with such as smoking Marijuana. I have tried to explain that while there is history there, citizens, especially those who have a hope for a future not only embrace the police, but cast aside pre-conceived notions and conduct themselves with respect to police officers. Like all old men, I tell the story over and again, to try to make the point that things have in fact changed. On both sides. Most Black people are over-joyed that the police are in their neighborhoods, making a difference. And, that standing in a remembrance of a sordid past is not a view toward having a future. Just last night I administered this 'Learn to accept that hand of friendship.' lecture. I don't care that he may get tired of hearing it. Respect the fact that that officer came to serve and protect the good professor, who showed poor character on his own part by passing judgment, stupidly I might venture, without cause. I'd have offered him coffee and done whatever he asked to make him comfortable with his safety. Safety he is risking by being there in the first place. Just as we don't forget what happened before in the one regard, we should not forget the part against our malevolent conviction.

I doubt that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would be so silly as to insult an officer as professor Gates chose to do. They are in the business of playing to a choir. The coddled Cambridge professor was just being asinine, the geeky nerd having a chance to be a bully. I doubt race had as much to do with his being as ass as he'd like people to believe. Racism is an excuse. He lost face. It has been a learning opportunity, cooler heads being able to say that the past is past, as real as that was and still is in some places and times, but let's look to the future. With clarity.

I'm with you Herzl! We should not forget the past but we do need to put it aside and act like we have better sense now. It's time to move on and stop beating a dead horse. I'd like to believe we've learned something from what we've lived through and can make things better from now on.
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PostSubject: Re: The Gates Affair and Race in America   Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:49 am

Great thread and dialogue! I don't really think that I could add anything. Obviously there is much right thinking amongst our brothers here! We would do well as a nation if we could follow the example of brotherly interaction that is evidenced on this board.
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