Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Skip Gates Update

When I posted about the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. arrest yesterday, I hesitated before I began writing because I didn't have all the facts yet, and thought maybe I was responding a bit hastily. But the facts of the case that were already published hither and yon on the Internet seemed pretty damning, and not toward Skip Gates. So what the hell, I went ahead and came down pretty squarely on his side.
But now, more information has come out, and guess what? It's worse. I can't access Blogger at this moment so I can't quote my original post, but I believe the scenario I was imagining had a harried professor returning to his home, a few blocks from the university, to maybe have lunch (it was lunchtime), go to the bathroom and perhaps pick up some materials for any appointments he had later in the afternoon. I imagined he was kind of stressed and in a hurry and then made more so by finding he couldn't get into his home.
Oh, but the truth is so much more. MORE. 
He was returning from the airport in a livery car after spending a week in China working on a PBS documentary. How criminal! Finding his front door had been damaged while he was away, he went around to the back, let himself in that way, and then he and the driver worked together to open the front door. A white female neighbor called the police because she saw two black men trying to enter the house by force (a true assessment). When the police arrived, the driver was gone, and Skip was in the house calling Harvard Real Estate about the damage to his door. One plausible reason the door might be damaged is that someone tried to break in while he was away - and yet no one called about that. Hmm. Odd.
So yeah. Interesting.
Of course, the best take on this that I have yet seen comes from Angry Black Bitch. Hey, guess what? She's kind of angry about it. Angry, and simultaneously cracking my shit up. For me, that's a winning combination.
Prof. Gates says this experience had led him to consider conducting research on race and criminal justice. More power to him. Make lemons out of lemonade, I say!


Cee in SF said...

This story is horrible and ridiculous. Horrible!

Cee in SF said...

Oh, and I just saw this on Yahoo!:

The Cambridge police commissioner says his department is "deeply pained" by President Barack Obama's statement that his officers "acted stupidly" when they arrested a renowned black scholar in his home.

The Trebs said...

Ugh... infuriating. The idea that they now want an apology for the "acted stupidly" comment makes me physically ill.

Lisa Blah Blah said...

I think both sides were not at their best, but I give Gates more sympathy because he had just arrived home from a long overseas journey and no doubt just wanted to collapse. Instead, he had to deal with his door being damaged, calling the realty company and then being confronted by the police in his own home. Regardless of what anyone else says about whether this was racial profiling, the police officer did indeed "act stupidly" in arresting him. For WHAT?!

Furthermore, just because a black officer supports the white officer's actions "100%" (see doesn't mean the officer is absolved of acting stupidly. It just means that particular black officer doesn't have a whole lot of sense either.

Lisa Blah Blah said...

Oops. That link should be:

Lisa Blah Blah said...

Okay, the link's not working. Do a quick search in Yahoo News for "Obama says words ill chosen, calls white policeman" if you really must see it. :-)

bridget in oregon said...

I hope Mr. Gates writes a book on it and laughs all the way to the bank. I've enjoyed all his other books so it'll be interesting to see what comes next.