Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ya know, the interesting thing about the arrest of Professor Gates for living in a house in Cambridge while black is…

…that his neighbor called the cops to report two black men trying to push open the front door but apparently no one called a damn cop to report the incident that damaged the fucking door in the first place.

Blink.

Shall we?

This bitch attended college in Waltham which is kinda close to Cambridge MA. Since my sister attended college at the same time in Cambridge and since a bitch spent more time there than on my own campus because the food was better, I have a strong familiarity with that town.

I was there in the early 1990’s…and I had more than one incident of shopping while black, leaving that yummified ice cream shop near The Coop while black and attending a totally legal and that’s why my ass was detained and not arrested protest while black. I’ve only been back once…this bitch isn’t one for nostalgic visits…so I had hoped that things had improved with time.

Clearly, some things don’t change.

Professor Gates has released a statement through his lawyer that is published over at The Root. I strongly suggest y’all read it and then read the police report (there's a link at the end of the article) and then ponder the differences in accounts.

Now, here’s what always happens when a charge of racial profiling-based ig’nance is made – folks will talk about giving the officers involved the benefit of the doubt even though they didn’t give Professor Gates an inch even after he produced two forms of identification in his own damn house proving that they were all standing in his motherfucking house…other folks will blame Professor Gates for getting testy while being accused of breaking into his own damn house even though he was being hassled about whether or not he had the right to be in his own damn house which he proved was his house when he produced two forms of identification whilst standing in his own damn house…and still others will defend the officers involved no matter what evidence is revealed because they think Professor Gates was acting uppity and uppity negroes deserve the wrath of the law when they let themselves get uppity about being harassed in their own damn houses and since when do they let black folk have houses, don't they know that makes them uppity?!?

I’ve been there…well, not exactly there ‘cause I don’t have a home in Cambridge so I’ve never arrived home from China to find my front door fucked over and then had the police arrive to not address the fact that my front door was fucked over but to challenge whether that door was door and then toss my ass in jail after I expressed frustration over their refusal to accept the fact that it was my fucking door. Lawd, have mercy. But I have been grabbed by the collar of my shirt, pushed up against a brick wall and told to produce identification after leaving a store and then putting a shopping back in my back pack (translation – a black woman putting a shopping bag into a back pack outside a store = stealing to some police officers.) And if a bitch had a dollar for every time I was asked where I was going and what my business was while in Cambridge I’d be done paying off my student loans by now (wince).

Not every person of color has had this kind of experience…and that’s another thing some folks like to point out as if that fucking matters. As if some of us call that shit down while others “act right” and thus are rewarded by a life free of drama. And the fact that this shit happened and happens north of the Mason Dixon line will shock some...mostly because the north and New England specifically get a pass that region sure as shit hasn't earned.

But some of us have had that experience…some of us have an intimate understanding of the anxiety, frustration, humiliation, anger and disgust Professor Gates was feeling…some of us know the thoughts that probably raced through his head like “will this cop rough me up…beat me…shoot me in my own fucking house?” and “why the fuck are there multiple police officers on my front lawn to deal with my returning to my own fucking house while no one fucking did a damn thing or showed the fuck up when some unknown person fucked my front door up when I was out of town?”

And those of us who know that experience also know the added insult Professor Gates now faces of being expected to prove to all those doubtful folks and the media that he was wronged when he was arrested for taking issue with being questioned about his right to be in his own damn house…while in his own damn house…after having produced identification proving that everyone involved in this mess was standing in Professor Gates’ motherfucking house.

Pause…reflect while sipping coffee in my sister’s motherfucking house…continue.

Post-racial my black ass.

***logs off to venture out into the world while black***

29 comments:

David Duff said...

Mouth-wateringly delicious and hilarious! It's pure Tom Wolfe. How I wish I had been there, although I might have done myself an injury laughing. It's completely the wrong aphorism, and I haven't the time or talent to invent an appropriate one, but the "the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable instantly springs to mind!

Eduardo Guize said...

Thanks for clarifying this piece of news, cause on the website I read this they were just making fun of the fact that Professor Gates dropped the "yo' mama" joke, = his behavior was "too black", so he had it coming.

Some people and media really get away in life pretty well while dumb.

BaltimoreGal said...

I am an incredibly white girl and have been on occasion "too testy" with the police because I have done something like ask a reasonable question in a calm manner. I cannot imagine what would have happened to me had I been black. I find this whole incident both unsurprising and completely repellent at the same time!

L. Jackson said...

Then u have to wonder if the 'white' neighbor who started it all isn't mortified to find she is living next to 'uppity' black in her 'special' neighborhood...hmm whole thing smacks of ugly & truly not uncommon!

Memoirs of a Bulimic Black Boy said...

One of the most troubling aspects of this whole mess, one which I fear will get overlooked, is yet another abuse of police powers. For the sake of argument let’s believe everything the police officer said in his report. If this is true, then at the very best Dr. Gates was arrested simply because the police officer got his feelings hurt. Once again we see how law enforcement has abused their power, with the almighty arrest.

No peace was disturbed, it was 12:55p.m and Dr. Gates was standing on his front porch, having moved there from his kitchen at the request of the officer. Like many other jobs: teachers, meter maids, bouncers, refs, etc. being a cop means sometimes people are going to get mad at you and say things to and about you that you may find to be mean, hurtful or untrue. Right or wrong, part of these jobs; require the holder to know when to walk away. You don’t get to retaliate simply because you’re feeling get hurt or slighted. Grow Up, or get a new job.

Chad said...

I'm one of those who "give the police the benefit of the doubt." However, like Memoirs suggests, even if every word of the police report itself is true, it's still fucked up how they did the professor!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm White
I'm in England
And this still seriously PISSES ME OFF!

IseultTheIdle said...

As MoBBB pointed out, Dr Gates was asked to leave his house and follow the police officer outside, where he was then arrested for disorderly conduct in public. That smacks of entrapment, to me.

Charges have been dropped, of course, being baseless. Let's see how forgiving Dr Gates is feeling this week.

Anonymous said...

It is so sad to see some of the comments on The Root about this siutation. People just don't get that this is not a white country. It's just a country. In addition, they need to let go of the ideas that anyone who isn't white should be happy just to be here, supposedly soaking up all this freedom. If Prof Gates is so free in America then why can't he just go into his own house, not be harrassed and not be told by the public to just shut up and take it.

This would never ever have happened if he were white. The officer would have just chuckled and that would have been that.

I am so happy that the ignorant folks who have written into The Root do not represent or speak for all white people. But white people do need to teach their bretheren that their ignorance is unwanted, wrong and harmful. Hate is hate.

As always there is much work to be done.

Anon-

Delux said...

I am SO DONE.

Shark-fu said...

Delux...
I'm going on the radio in Boston at 8:15pm tonight to discuss.

On Common Ground...and this should be fun...

Anonymous said...

Wow, you could have written a piece that would gain the whole world's sympathy but your foul language distracts one from empathy. I've changed my email settings to avoid getting this material in the future.

Shark-fu said...

Okay, who emailed my post to this asshole?

Lawd, have mercy.

'Tis a blog...not work release mandated through parole.

Get thee gone...

Anonymous said...

Caught the last half of the interview online. Nice job on the show Shark-Fu. Um, try not to get arrested on the front lawn.

C-Money

Anonymous said...

Hah. Your blog is so great. I really hope I didn't creep you out when I said I'd promise to read.

I know you don't listen to people who say otherwise and that's great.

Trick Razor

P.S. What are your thoughts on the GLBT March On Washington?

Shark-fu said...

Trick...

No worries!

Re: the march...that's worthy of a post...mayhap I'll do one!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Big Sistah, your blog has helped me relieve the notion that the population is no longer capable of mustering a sense of outrage with authority...... and double thanks for your assistance in 'dreening my spleen" with your timely and appropriate expressions of condemnation of the officer's handling of the situation.

Cassius King

ogbuggs said...

Er, uh, I guess Dr. Gates will be filing a major civil suit against all parties involved in this humiliation, right? Are is he content with air-kisses from Mayor Simmons and the City Manager and Police Chief,et.al? Let me know if its all kissy poo politics or is Skip going to man up and go for their jugulars so as to prevent this from ever happening again to anyone? Sensitivity training? Yeah! Right! (Yawn)

Hmmm, just wondering!

Julia said...

Thanks for a terrific post, Shark-fu. Especially for dissecting the unfortunate arguments that are being perpetuated all over the web... All this blame the victim stuff makes me sick.

there was a show on npr yesterday afternoon about this incident and someone said that "disorderly conduct" is supposedly referred to by police as something like "disobedient to a cop" That about says it all.

David Duff said...

You mean, Julia, that we should not obey the police?

Lisa Blah Blah said...

"...Professor Gates was acting uppity and uppity negroes deserve the wrath of the law when they let themselves get uppity about being harassed in their own damn houses and since when do they let black folk have houses, don't they know that makes them uppity?!?"

Laughing so hard I can't breathe. Sigh. I just love you.

This whole thing is completely crazy-making. I am still pissed off, but at least you made me laugh. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I am Black. My father retired from the Chicago Police Department. My younger brother is presently a Captain in the same. As y'all have heard, Chi-town is famous for the police kicking ass first, then asking questions. That's why my dad taught me and my brother to be respectful when encountering white police officers, because if we acted like we were supposed to, and the officer got out of pocket, he could do something about it (My dad retired a Deputy Superintendent). But if we got out of pocket, his hands were tied (and our butts would be warmed). I hope Dr. Gates uses the legal system to get him some serious get back. After all ain't that the "American" way?

MemeGRL said...

Your "Now here's what always happens" paragraph is hands down my favorite commentary on this situation by far. Awesome.
I hope being called out as "stupid" by the president was not lost on the police. But I might be overoptimistic on that.

The Gori Wife said...

His own damn house! Exactly! I'm going to steal this argument for later use. And what the hell? Loud and tumultuous behavior. That was in his own damn YARD. How's that public. Even a dog can be off leash in their own yard. Idiots. I hope Dr. Gates gets what's coming to him allright - millions of dollars from the idiotic police department.

Ros said...

If a cop came into my house, demanded identification, and wouldn't leave when shown that it was, in fact, my damn house, I can imagine I'd get rather testy and loud.

After a 15-hour trip, generally exhausted, to find the front door won't open, AND have an asshole cop show up and not leave? It'd take a more obnoxiously polite person than me to muster up the willpower to be polite.

And, frankly, most claims that "I would have behaved differently" seem to be entirely full of it.

(That said, I'm white, female, and Canadian. Cultural politeness be damned, I'm also from Quebec - respect for cops seems to be at an all-time low in this province.)

ToddyEnglish said...

Amen, Amen, and Amen!

I would like to reiterate one of your points...

POST RACIAL MY GOT DAMN ASS!

JJ said...

I've been thinking about this for a while, and it's been all tied up in my head with Sonia Sotomayor's issues up here with the Judiciary Committee...

The noise boils down to this (in both situations): Generally, your average white man complaining about this doesn't get the fact that he SHOULD NOT BE THE BASIS from which all logical/rational/"good" behavior stems. He doesn't get that his experience isn't shared by the people of color or women or GLBT (sorry to lump, but), etc., around him.

Other white cops especially. Have you looked at the commentary at the Boston Globe online? There's this one cop on there talking about how if Prof. Gates (his nickname is SKIP - you can't get more oreo/safe black man than that, dammit) had just "remained calm" then he would not have been arrested. OK, how about this: His constitutional rights were being offended as soon as he identified himself as the owner/occupier of the home and the cop didn't leave. When the IDs came out - I'll let everything that happened before that go, even though all of it was ridiculous - the cop lost his purpose for being in the house and lost all legal right to ask any questions, look around, further detain Skip or even ask him out on the porch.

And oh, yeah, why WERE you asking him to come on the porch? Because that cheatin' lowdown cop realized he didn't have ANY LEGAL AUTHORITY INSIDE the house and wanted to reassert authority by luring Skip outside, where it is LEGAL to make an unwarranted arrest for something like "tumultuous and loud behavior." And let us not forget that it is likely that the behavior for which Skip was arrested likely happened inside the house and not outside. If there is a temporal element to false arrest, i.e., if the misdemeanor for which the officer arrests you must happen in a location in which he can make the arrest for the arrest to be valid, I hope this incident fails and that cop is hooked up on that as well.

And then these same racist white men wander around asking black people why they don't trust cops. Because every time we look around, one of 'em is asking questions he'd never ask someone of the caucasian persuasion. We always have to be on point, well-behaved - or else we are immediately suspects. There is no middle ground. (And even when we ARE well-behaved, we are "can I help you"'d to death in the store and have purses snatched up from metro seats. I'M TIRED of having this JD and having white women pull their purses closer when I pass by.)

Anonymous said...

Didja catch Michelle Bernard's comments on tonight's "Hardball?" In the midst of all this controversy over whether Prof. Gates was right or wrong, Ms. Bernard expressed her dismay, as a Black woman, of being mistaken for a legal secretary at her place of business.

Find another analogy, Ms. Bernard. Rosa Parks was a seamstress. Malcolm X, a pimp. Harriet Tubman, an enslaved Black woman. Get my drift?

I have been a legal secretary in Big Law, NYC for many years--long enough to remember the time when a White secretary could refuse to work for a Black attorney. But the Black secretary was there to ensure that his back (and yes, that was before Black women attorneys) was covered and his work product perfectly rendered.

President of the United States, law firm attorney (few partners, and lessening numbers of associates), talking head/pundit--we are all Black and considered by White America at large to be inferior, and I find it unconscionable that this Black woman would go on cable news and announce her disdain for being mistaken for a [Black] legal secretary.

Mine was the first generation of Blacks of any career path to be given entre into major law firms. We paid the price of discrimination and wariness from the majority population; we had to be exceptional in order to be considered adequate. I paid the price, and I'll be damned if I'll stand silent to that same mistreatment from Black attorneys. Hear me now: Your Black secretary has covered your ass and made sure that you were kept apprised of information you would not otherwise be privy to. Your work product was read, proofread, and returned to you for revising until it was flawless.

Tell you what. If Ms. Bernard feels herself superior to me by virtue of three years of advanced education, she needs to have a chat with Prof. Gates today and let him remind her that we are all passengers on the same rapidly sinking ship. For her to express intra-racial elitism at this critical juncture in American history is just reprehensible, and she should be ashamed of herself.

Jacqueline Brown

Portia said...

This is mutherfukin piece of analysis deconstructs what is so distorted by white supremecy. Keep it coming!

Portia