Saturday, July 25, 2009

Madder Than Gates

Professor Gates got pretty mad about his run in the the police last week. I doubt he got as mad as I did. After a break in in my middle class neighborhood the police decided to question the usual suspects -- teen age boys (beer was taken). So with no adults at home my 17 year old was awakened by three police detectives standing in his bedroom.

Their reason for entering the house without permission: Although the screened door was closed they could see that the back door inside the screen door was ajar (We do this so the cats can go out.) and who knows what awful things may be going on inside. The fact that they were wandering around in the back yard of the home of a person they only considered a suspect because of profiling was just a coincidence I guess. Yes we are talking about pretense.

They told my son that if he would just confess the would go easier on him. I am not kidding. I have no doubt he wanted to confess but they were being cagey about the exact crime and he could not think of any he had committed. So he was stumped. They finally left with the parting shot that he was not telling all he knew.

I do not know what Gates said exactly but I'll bet it was tamer than my reaction would have been had I not had time to cool down after hearing the story of teen age male profiling. I also know that not being a Harvard professor and a friend of the President would have meant the consequences for my tirade would have been harsher and if I were African American might still be in jail.

I do not doubt for a minute that African Americans deal with profiling more than any other group in American. My hunch is that teenage males are in the top ten and the lower the socioeconomic class the worse it is for both groups. And the Gates episode also shows what we know exists for all groups: people of privilege and with connections are almost always going to have their way.

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