A Sad And Outrageous Event: The Arrest Of Henry Louis Gates

I am saddened and outraged at the same time that the famous African American historian, Henry Louis Gates, Jr,  was arrested, handcuffed, photographed and booked over a misunderstanding,  when he had problems opening up his front door in Cambridge, Massachusetts,  after a research trip to China.

A neighbor had called saying she believed that the house was being broken into, and even Gates said later that he does not blame the neighbor,  as he would want his house protected from burglars, especially with all of his art and books contained inside the house.  But the white officer refused to accept his identifications of a driver’s license and Harvard ID card as legitimate,  entered his home without a warrant,  and handcuffed him outside the house after refusing to give his name and badge number to Gates.

As Gates has said, this demonstrates the problems that African Americans and other minorities face in America,  even in the time of the first African American President in the White House.  If Gates can become a victim,  then literally any African American   (and particularly males)  is indeed subject to the possibility of police abuse and brutality.  Many whites have not been willing to admit this is the case,  but the Gates situation proves that even in an enlightened city such as Cambridge, Massachusetts,  there is still a double standard based on race and ethnicity.

This is very troubling, and the fact that Gates’s arrest has been overturned does not solve the issue, as he was put through humiliating treatment and his mugshot was advertised all  over the news media.  This is an emotionally disturbing matter, and not only to people of minority background, but also to whites like myself who are deeply upset that such a situation still exists in America and even in the North in 2009.

So much work needs to be done before we can say that race does not  matter, as indeed this tragic event proves that it DOES matter, in a negative way!

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