America, Still Not 'Post-Racial'

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

On Monday, Henry Louis Gates Jr, one of the nation's pre-eminent African American scholars, was arrested for breaking into his own home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The charges have been dropped against the Harvard professor but the racial questions are still swirling. With the election of the first black man to the White House, many people thought American society was becoming "post racial." Joining The Takeaway to discuss race in America is Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor, law professor at George Washington University and author of Let's Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice and our friend David Wall Rice, a psychology professor at Morehouse College.

Read David Wall Rice's blog post, Professor Gates Arrested? No Surprise

"The police engage in these who's-the-man masculinity contests. And you know there are things you can do if you don't want to get locked up: you can not look them in the eye, you can be deferential. But sometimes, when you're a black man who's tried to do the right thing your whole life and still end up getting treated like a you-know-what, you do get loud and tumultuous."
—Law professor and author Paul Butler


Paul Butler and David Wall Rice

Hosted by:

Farai Chideya and Lynn Sherr


Hsi-Chang Lin and Melissa Locker

Comments [7]

Nat X

Gates was in my view conservative in his response to the police. Once his "PHOTO ID" was shown to the Police, that should have ended their questioning. Lets understand the Cambridge Police work for Prof. Gates, not the other way around my friends.

The Police should have kissed his ass, apologized and beat a hasty retreat. Its time for the Cambridge Police to learn their place.

What about the desk sergeant back at HQ? We have an arrested Harvard Professor who walks with a cane,

So lets see, do we call Harvard and ask them to send someone over or shoot the "Mug Shots" & send them out to the FBI? Lets do the mug shots and let him call his lawyer Prof. Olgetree, you know, the black guy who, by the way was the law school mentor to The President of the United States.

Oh GOD imagine, a black American being two degrees of separation from the President!

Guys, the natural order of the universe has changed. Get used to it.

Jul. 22 2009 10:29 AM

Maybe I need a college, since I spelled college as collage. But maybe a little art in their heart might help cops as well.

Jul. 22 2009 10:03 AM

I was appalled by this story, and I was curious about who would call in to the police about seeing a well-dressed middle aged African American man, with a cane and a limp, no less, at lunchtime, trying to get into his own house. If it was a neighbor why didn't she recognize him, since he is likely the most famous person on the block? It makes no sense to me, except as stereotyping without thinking.

Jul. 22 2009 10:01 AM

Why do doctors, lawyers, and pretty much everyone else have to have a collage degree, but cops do not? It seems to me that cops do not have the critical thinking skills they need to do the job properly.

Jul. 22 2009 10:00 AM

While I completely agree that this is something that happens predominantly to black males, they are not the only ones who get unequal treatment. Does anyone remember Bowers v. Hardwick--gay men arrested in their home for having sex. Went to the Supreme Court and they found no protection...

Jul. 22 2009 09:57 AM

While there's no doubt that racial profiling played a role in the arrest, Professor Gates's behavior after the fact shows that he is out of touch with the experiences of most blacks in this country. Unfortunately, relatively benign events of mistaken identity happen all the time, and most black people are familiar enough with it to stay calm and joke about it with their friends afterwards, not be belligerent with the police and then threaten to sue the city of Cambridge.

Jul. 22 2009 09:41 AM

Minor quibble, he was arrested *while* entering his own home, not *for* entering it. I believe the charges were for disorderly conduct. I agree that the motivations for targeting him as a person of suspicion were suspect though.

Jul. 22 2009 09:26 AM

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