Sunday, July 26, 2009

My thoughts on white privelege continued...

Well I haven't posted in a little while but I'm glad to be back. And by the way, I just got back from Puerto Rico... Yeah that's right, I just spent a week on the beach, in the rain-forest, and roaming the streets of Old San Juan. And I can't forget to mention the amazing coffee I drank. The average cup of coffee in Puerto Rico is as good as an excellent cup of coffee here...

Anyway. Last time I checked in I shared my thoughts on white privilege and now I'm going to continue.

I would like to thank Colin for his posting about racial profiling and the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. If you've been under a rock and haven't heard about it, you can read about it here and if you want to read one of many articles condemning the arrest go here and if you want to read an interesting commentary on an arrest that I never heard of, that involved actors Josh Brolin and Jeffrey Wright, go here.

In the second article that I linked to, the writer makes the following point:
If this hadn’t been the most pre-eminent scholar of African-American Studies in the country, we never would have known about this incident I have to agree. If you are looking for evidence of the existence of white privilege, one of the most obvious places to look at is the relationship between the police and Black Americans. I feel very confident in making the following statement: On a whole the interactions between Black Americans and the police are completely different than that of White Americans and the police. Periodically a story will come across the national spotlight that highlights this divide. The most recent story is the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. This man is so famous and well respected that President Obama immediately said that the Cambridge Police acted "stupidly" in their arrest. How on earth is a middle aged Harvard Professor arrested for a break in at his own home? It seems pretty ludicrous to most of us. How many people think that this would be just as likely to happen to a white Harvard professor?

I would have to say that I agreed emphatically with President Obama's assessment of the police conduct. If the arresting officers actions were justifiable than why did the Cambridge District Attorney immediately drop the charges? Anyway I more than likely preaching to the choir for now. That said I do wonder how people feel about the "beer summit". I have a whole lot of thoughts. On the one hand I am glad Mr. Obama made a strong statement about this event and I do think it makes sense for him to facilitate a dialogue on the issue of racial profiling. I feel that the dialogue ultimately fell flat. I'm not exactly sure that it makes sense for the President to be sitting down with Joe Officer and Joe Black American that was racially profiled. Quite frankly if he is going to add beer summit's for every racial profiling victim to his job description, than I think he will be very busy. Anyway the reason I fell that this "teachable" moment fell short is because I believe people like President Obama allowed the discussion to be hijacked by law enforcement and the supporters of the large police organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police. Virtually all successful politicians ascribe to the narrative that Police are beyond question. The men in blue are essentially the bedrock of our democracy, the people that do the dirty work so that the rest of us can enjoy the pursuit of happiness. Their are obviously several problems with this concept, but the most problematic aspect is the consistent racism that pervades police departments across the USA.

We didn't have to look very far to find the racism I speak of in this particular instance. I mean I obviously found the entire event to be incredibly racist but for those of you who might believe that this was just a good working cop doing his job you have Justin Barret. If you don't know who is you can read his email in the link below. (please note it is extremely offensive and some people may not want to take the time out of their day to read it) Justin Barret's crazy email basically calls Henry Louis Gates Jr a "banana eating jungle monkey" and a few other choice remarks and emailed it to a reporter that wrote about the arrest and also forwarded it to a bunch of his buddies. Now of course the Boston Police Department has moved to have him fired. But the question I have to ask is what on earth made this man think it was OK to send that email? Do you really believe that he never made these kind of remarks at work? I believe quite strongly that he worked in an environment that nurtures this kind of language. But of course we are led to believe that it is an aberattion, like the murder of Oscar Grant (if you don't know who he is you can watch his murder on Youtube), the murder of Amadou Diallo, the rape and torture of Abner Louima, and of course the arrest of one of the most pre-eminent Black American Scholars for a breaking in to his own home.

These are not isolated incidents...

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