Last week we learned a valuable lesson on race relations, President Obama’s soul, and the limits of presidential political courage. Henry L. Gates, 58 year old Harvard professor, Presidential friend, all-around nice guy was so threaten (on his front porch) to the Cambridge Police Department(CPD) that they had to arrest that dangerous educated negro. Gates was absolutely wrong to assume the police came to his house because he was black. Gates was rude, arrogant, and obnoxious, and he was a complete ass. However, I to would challenge most of us black, white, liberal, conservative to be cool, calm, and collected if a police officer knocked on our door, demanded proof of residency, and enter our home uninvited. In this case, the police had every right to be there, and Professor Gates should have politely complied even if he believed he was racially profiled. The problem started when Sgt. James Crowley, CPD, stopped acting professionally and got angry. Gates was no threat, maybe an ass but I doubt Gates was the first or last ass Sgt. Crowley will encounter. Sgt. Crowley crossed the line when he let his anger and/or bravado dictate his actions. Obama was correct, the CPD acted “stupidly”. Just like Trooper Daniel Martin, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, stopping an ambulance carrying a patient or Officer Robert Powell (Plano, TX) that stopped Ryan Moats (at the hospital for a traffic violation) from seeing his dying mother-in-law. Police act “stupidly” fairly often.
President Obama gave us a window into his heart with his extemporaneous remarks. Obama clearly understands Police/Black issues, but Obama’s comments were the classic definition of a political gaff: A politician accidentally saying what he really thinks. Then the fun/trouble started, Rush Limbaugh immediately stirred racial unrest, the police unions and the Fraternal Order of Police(FOP) defended Sgt. Crowley, the media talking-heads criticized Obama, and the cable news channels (looking for Reverend Wright ratings) repeated Obama’s comments and the police press conference every 10 minutes. President Obama then apologized (cow towed) to the police for his comments and invited those two idiots, Gates and Crowley, to the White House for a beer. I hope before anyone goes to the White House, Gates and Crowley apologize to each other and the country. However, we’re ignoring the obvious, if the First Black President of the United States (FBPOTUS) can’t state an opinion on police behavior, what in the hell is the average black man to do? Most of black America believes the Obama presidency will have tremendous long term benefits for America, specifically black America. President Barack Obama is a wonderful example of what hard work and education can accomplish regardless of one’s heritage, father, father’s religion, finances, race, birth certificate, or name. And Michelle Obama’s impact on black women and girls cannot be overstated.
However, someone in the black community must ask the question: In the short term is the Obama Presidential Industrial Complex (OPIC) good for African-Americans? Can the FBPOTUS govern effectively, maintain his personal honor, and retain his street credibility? The OPIC’s primary goal is re-election, followed by Obama’s stated agenda, followed by Democratic Party agenda, and (somewhere down the list) the African-American’s agenda (although, I’m not exactly sure what that is now). Obama’s heart and soul be dammed if the FBPOTUS steps on the OPIC’s message of the day, heath-care reform, etc. These advisers (mostly white and bourgeoisie Negros) collectively have little regard for the impact of the Gates incident on black fathers and sons. Did Obama or the OPIC throw millions of young black men under the bus? How many disorderly conduct arrest occurred last week in Boston? In America? How many non-Harvard educated average black guys were harassed (off camera) last week? How many more young black men must die for Driving While Black (DWB, Sean Bell, 23)? Walking While Black (WWB, Amadou Diallo, 23)? Professor Gates was a “unexpected quick movement” and “shinny black object” from getting 1 to 40 9mm round(s) center mass. Those same mostly red faced policemen, their union, and the FOP would have had a press conference and uttered those all to common phrases: “we support the officer”, “followed procedure”, “justifiable shooting”, and “isolated incident”. Months later, an all white rural western Massachusetts jury would uttered another all to common phrase when police are indicted – “not guilty”.
I remember having the conversation with my black teenage son(sitting in the family room, his knees vibrating up and down, waiting for me to give him the keys to the family sedan) with his eyes glazing-over as I lectured him for the 20,000th time. Don’t speed, don’t drive and talk on the cell phone, don’t drink alcohol, don’t drink and drive. If you are ever stopped by the police, be polite, get your drivers license/vehicle registration/insurance card out, keep your hands in plain site, make no quick movements, do as instructed, make no statement other than “I want a lawyer”, and call Dad as soon as possible. Even now, 7 years later, I still have a latent fear that my 23 year old son will be killed by the police. Now black fathers must instruct our sons on how to behave if they are Home While Back (HWB, Henry Gates, 58). If the police knock on the front door, be polite, get your drivers license, …, and call Dad as soon as possible. If this is racial progress, I’ll take George W. Bush back. At least then, we knew our enemy. The OPIC hides behind a liberal political agenda, democratic policies, inspiring NAACP speeches, and a beautiful black family, but the OPIC is just as dangerous to Black America as Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, or George W Bush. Obama has 95% African-American support, so Blacks can be ignored, undervalued, and tossed under the bus at will. President Obama, please don’t throw our sons under the bus for political expediency. I have one more question, if not our black sons, for what issue are you willing to spend some political capital and stand by your own words?
Written and posted July 27, 2009