Black In America: Media Displays Racial Bias In Coverage of Henry Louis Gates Arrest

•July 24, 2009 • 2 Comments

The coverage of the recent arrest of a prominent Harvard Professor in his own home has sparked national debate.

The media coverage of news agencies such as CNN and Fox News have become clearly biased as they parade the record of the arresting officer.

It is always the assumption in this nation that the African American is wrong and the other party deserves the benefit of the doubt.

This is the textbook example of African Americans being second class citizens in regard to the law.

The continued injustices are always downplayed by the media and government to be a simple misunderstanding; it is not.

The President of the country should never have to retract his opinion when asked a question and further more should not be subject to scrutiny by the media and the Cambridge Police Department.

This also shows the class divides in America still exist in an unspoken matter as President Obama called the officer to speak with him before attempting to contact the victim. President Obama has yet to call his “friend” Prof. Henry Gates; however the officer has been contacted.

Fox News and CNN have taken liberty to portray this as an apology to the officer. The officer has blatantly refused to apologize to Prof. Henry Gates. Prof. Gates’ side of the story is incomplete at best, receiving little to no attention at all.

Whether the President of the United States or a professor of Harvard University; a black man does not retain equal rights in this nation.

Henry Gates was arrested in his home for disorderly conduct. The media’s assumption was that he was deserving of the arrest. I assume he was not.

If the officer is telling the truth and Gates was belligerent as he attempted to leave, he should have given Gates his name and badge number and left.

Under Massachusetts law an officer is required to provide name and badge number to a civilian who asks; the officer refused to do so.

But what do I know, white is right… 

The coverage of the recent arrest of a prominent Harvard Professor in his own home has sparked national debate.

The media coverage of news agencies such as CNN and Fox News have become clearly biased as they parade the record of the arresting officer.

It is always the assumption in this nation that the African American is wrong and the other party deserves the benefit of the doubt.

This is the textbook example of African Americans being second class citizens in regard to the law.

The continued injustices are always downplayed by the media and government to be a simple misunderstanding; it is not.

The President of the country should never have to retract his opinion when asked a question and further more should not be subject to scrutiny by the media and the Cambridge Police Department.

This also shows the class divides in America still exist in an unspoken matter as President Obama called the officer to speak with him before attempting to contact the victim. President Obama has yet to call his “friend” Prof. Henry Gates; however the officer has been contacted.

Fox News and CNN have taken liberty to portray this as an apology to the officer. The officer has blatantly refused to apologize to Prof. Henry Gates. Prof. Gates’ side of the story is incomplete at best, receiving little to no attention at all.

Whether the President of the United States or a professor of Harvard University; a black man does not retain equal rights in this nation.

Henry Gates was arrested in his home for disorderly conduct. The media’s assumption was that he was deserving of the arrest. I assume he was not.

If the officer is telling the truth and Gates was belligerent as he attempted to leave, he should have given Gates his name and badge number and left.

Under Massachusetts law an officer is required to provide name and badge number to a civilian who asks; the officer refused to do so.

But what do I know, white is right…

Advertisements

Boris Kodjoe Expresses Empathy of Racial Prejudice

•July 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) –Boris Kodjoe owns a mansion in Atlanta. But when he goes to answer his door, the black actor knows what it’s like to be an outcast.

“When I’m opening the door of my own house, someone will ask me where the man of the house is, implying that I’m staff,” said Kodjoe, best known for starring in Showtime’s “Soul Food.”

It’s a feeling some African-Americans say is all too common, even to this day in America: No matter your status or prominence in society, you’re still typecast. That’s why the recent arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation’s most prominent African-American scholars, has stirred outrage and debate.

Jelani Cobb, an author and professor at Spelman College in Atlanta, says it’s troubling on many levels when “one of the most recognizable African-Americans in the country can be arrested in his own home and have to justify being in his own home.”

“It’s really kind of unfathomable,” Cobb said. “If it can happen to him, yeah, it can happen to any of us.”

That’s a sentiment echoed by Jimi Izrael. “If a mild-mannered, bespectacled Ivy League professor who walks with a cane can be pulled from his own home and arrested on a minor charge, the rest of us don’t stand a chance,” Izrael wrote Tuesday on The Root, an online magazine with commentary from a variety of black perspectives that’s co-founded by Gates.

“We all fit a description. We are all suspects.”

Full Story: http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/07/22/gates.arrest.reaction/index.html

Black In America: Dr. Micheal Eric Dyson commentary on the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr

•July 22, 2009 • 1 Comment

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson says the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. shows that the U.S. is not a post-racial paradise.
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson says the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. shows that the U.S. is not “a post-racial paradise.”

(CNN) — Last Thursday, President Obama, in his fiery speech before the NAACP Convention, admitted that “an African-American child is roughly five times as likely as a white child to see the inside of a prison.”

But he surely couldn’t have imagined that only a couple of hours before his oration, one of America’s most prominent scholars — and a distinguished professor at Obama’s alma mater, Harvard University — would breathe cruel and ironic life into that sad statistic.

Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. is simply the most powerful and influential black scholar in our nation’s history.

He received a doctorate at Cambridge University long before the culture wars became au courant; he was among the first group of figures to receive a MacArthur “Genius Award” Fellowship; he wrote the finest work of literary criticism in a generation with “Signifying Monkey”; he was named by Time magazine as one of the “25 Most Influential Americans”; he has a boatload of honorary degrees; and he has been a ubiquitous media presence and thoughtful interpreter of race and culture for a quarter-century.

But none of that made a bit of difference when Gates returned from a research trip to China to find the front door to his Harvard-owned house jammed and enlisted the assistance of his driver to muscle the door loose. By the time Gates was on the phone with his leasing company, a white policeman had arrived, summoned by a neighbor who spotted two black men looking as if they were unlawfully breaking into the house.

Their stories diverge from here; the policeman says he asked Gates to step outside, Gates refused, the officer entered the home and requested Gates’ ID, which he didn’t initially produce, and finally had Gates arrested when he followed the officer outside, as Gates was “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior.”

Gates allegedly shouted, “Is this how you treat a black man in America?” and “You don’t know who you’re messing with.” Gates says he showed the officer his ID, demanded that the officer identify himself, which he didn’t, and then the professor followed the officer outside to get the policeman’s name and badge number when he was arrested by the gaggle of police who had gathered.

Several features of the story scream the presence of lingering bias and racism. A black man in a tony neighborhood simply seems out of place, even to his neighbors.

Had Gates been a white professor trying to get inside his home, and called on his driver to help him jar his door open, he probably wouldn’t have as readily aroused the suspicion of neighbors. And when police arrived to check out the premises, they probably wouldn’t have been nearly as ready to believe the worst about the occupant of a home who clearly wasn’t engaged in a criminal act.

Whatever one believes about what happened, Gates clearly wasn’t the beneficiary of the benefit of the doubt, a reasonable expectation since he posed no visible threat.

It is also striking that Gates seems to be the victim of a police mentality that chafes at a challenge of its implicit authority. While that may be true for folk of all races, it seems especially galling to cops to be questioned by a person of color.

How dare black folk believe that, regardless of their station or privilege, they have permission to speak back — or speak black — to state-enforced authority, one that, not a decade ago, routinely ravaged black communities in blatant displays of wanton aggression.

It is for good reason that police brutality is a constant concern for black folk; the stakes are often high and harmful. The link between black vulnerability and racial profiling — of setting in one’s collective imagination an image of black men as bad people who are liable to commit mayhem at any moment, and who must therefore always be suspected of wrong and subject to arbitrary forms of control and surveillance — is evident in the pileup of black bodies, from Amadou Diallo to Sean Bell, that testify to the force of police to impose lethal limits on black survival. Gates rubbed up against the unspoken code that enforces black silence and often violently compels black compliance.

In the end, Gates’ unjust treatment speaks volumes about the cynical assertion that we now live in a post-racial paradise.

Gates’ crime appears to be a new one in the litany of crimes that black folk commit by virtue of their very existence — in this case, HWB, or housing while black. If a famous and affluent black man in his own home can be accosted, arrested and humiliated, then all black folk can reasonably expect the same treatment.

To Gates’ credit, he realizes that racial profiling happens regularly to poor black folk, and he has pledged to do something about it. But another famous black figure associated with Harvard must renew his pledge to get rid of racial profiling and spare the nation the illusion that his success represents a post-racial America. While it’s not likely he’ll be unjustly arrested in his House, he’s got to make sure that the same privilege extends to millions of other black folk who don’t live on Pennsylvania Avenue.

– Dr. Micheal Eric Dyson

Tyler Perry treats Philly kids to Disney World

•July 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Tyler Perry is paying for 65 children from a Philadelphia day camp to go to Walt Disney World after reading about allegations that a suburban swim club had shunned them because of racism.

The black and Hispanic children who attend the day camp run by Creative Steps Inc. cheered Monday when they learned about the actor’s gift.

Creative Steps director Alethea Wright says she’s thrilled about the offer, especially because Perry “comes from humble beginnings” like the children in her camp.

The Valley Club in Huntingdon Valley has maintained that refunding the camp’s swimming fee was not about race but rather a safety issue, in part because many children couldn’t swim.

Perry is best known for his signature character Madea, a big-hearted but foul-tempered grandmother.

Black In America: Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Arrest A Result of Racial Profiling

•July 22, 2009 • 1 Comment

“”There are one million black men in jail in this country and last Thursday I was one of them. This is outrageous and that this is how poor black men across the country are treated everyday in the criminal justice system. It’s one thing to write about it, but altogether another to experience it.”

A prosecutor is dropping a charge against prominent Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. after Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the city’s police department recommended that the matter not be pursued.

Gates was arrested last week on a charge of disorderly conduct after an officer responded to his home, and found the owner of the house coming home from filming a documentary in China, according to a Cambridge police report.

Charles Ogletree, a professor at Harvard Law School who is Gates’ lawyer in this case, told CNN on Tuesday that Gates — the director of Harvard’s W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research — had returned from China on Thursday to his Cambridge home and discovered his front door jammed.

He opened his back door with his key and tried unsuccessfully from inside his home to open the front door. Eventually, Gates and his driver forced the door open from the outside, Ogletree said.

The professor was inside for several minutes when a police officer, Sgt. James Crowley, appeared at his steps and asked him to step outside, the lawyer said.

According to his lawyer, Gates told the officer he lived there and showed him his Massachusetts driver’s license and Harvard University identification card. The officer followed him into his house and said he had received a report of a possible break-in, the lawyer said. Gates grew frustrated that the officer was continuing to question him in his home and asked for the officer’s name and badge number, Ogletree said.

The police report offers a different account of the incident which Gates called very creative.  Mr. Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct in his own home. The charges which have been dropped are baseless and derogatory of Mr. Gates character.

Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr. (born September 16, 1950) is an American literary critic, educator, scholar, writer, editor, and public intellectual. Gates currently serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, where he is Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.

Power Spotlight: Dr. Frances Cress Welsing

•July 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Dr. Frances Cress Welsing is a world renowned, Washington, D.C.-based psychiatrist and race theorist Frances Cress Welsing rocked the fields of cultural and behavioral science with her 1970 essay The Cress Theory of Color-Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy). This striking theory of the origins of racism is rooted in the effects that varying degrees of melanin–the color-producing pigment in skin–can have on racial perception and development. “The quality of whiteness is a genetic inadequacy or a relative deficiency or disease based upon the inability to produce the skin pigments of melanin which are responsible for all skin color,” she explained in the essay, adding, “The majority of the world’s people are not so afflicted, suggesting that the state of color is the norm for human beings and [its] absence is abnormal.”

In her essay, Welsing contends that because of their “numerical inadequacy” and “color inferiority,” white people may have defensively developed “an uncontrollable sense of hostility and aggression” towards people of color which has led to “confrontations” between the races throughout history. Repressing their own feelings of inadequacy, whites “set about evolving a social, political and economic structure to give blacks and other ‘non-whites’ the appearance of being inferior.”

The second of three girls, Welsing was born on March 18, 1935, in Chicago, Illinois, into a family that had already produced two doctors. Her father, Henry N. Cress, now deceased, was a medical doctor, as was her grandfather. After receiving her bachelor’s degree at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, in 1957, and her M.D. at Washington D.C.’s Howard University College of Medicine five years later, Welsing pursued a career in general and child psychiatry. Her Cress Theory essay was published while she was an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Howard University College of Medicine. According to Welsing, it caused such a stir that her tenure at the university was not renewed in 1975.

In addition to her role as an educator, Welsing spent nearly two and a half decades of her long and distinguished career working as a staff physician for the Department of Human Services in Washington, D.C., and served as the clinical director of two schools there for emotionally troubled children. A specialist in both child and general psychiatry, she began her private practice in the district in 1967 and has gained particular acclaim for her work with young people.

For Welsing, the world’s most pressing problem is the disturbing issue of white supremacy, or racism. “I put the discussion of melanin on the board in order to [describe how pigmentation] was a factor in what white supremacy behavior was all about,” Welsing noted in an interview with Michael Eric Dyson for Emerge. “If I had my way, there wouldn’t be all the discussion about melanin. I would say, Discuss white supremacy.”

Welsing laid the foundation for her ongoing discussion of white supremacy in her groundbreaking 1970 essay The Cress Theory of Color-Confrontation and Racism. In it, she reasoned that because whiteness is a color deficiency and white people make up only a small percentage of the earth’s population, they tend to view people of color as a threat to their survival and therefore treat them with hostility. She stated that their defensive reaction has been to impose white supremacy, or racism, on people of color throughout history.

New Dick Gregory Interview

•July 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment