There is still an unfortunate reality in America when it comes to race: There are those who hold power and those who are forced to sub come to it. Although America arguably has the best of race relations in comparison to many European nation-states that face ethnic tension, the dark reality of race is that of power. Before the 1990s, Boston had a reputation for being an anti-black community; it has been shaped by its eastern European migratorial base that shaped its quasi white heritage. Black athletes often complained about being bothered when driving their high-priced cars in town. But, Henry Louis Gates is no athlete. For the most part, he really is not a celebrity accept for those of us who follow quasi celebrity academics — which constitutes far less than 1% of academics.
I suspect Gates allowed his ego to be an issue when he was the victim of racial profiling. Still, it is not unusual for black males to face some type of confrontation from white male police officers, as noted here when Gates clearly had done what he was supposed to have done:
The arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates is an example of poor police work, to be charitable, and the vestiges of racial relationships between black and white men. The police officer, after having been presented with two valid identification cards demonstrating who Gates was and where he lived, should have simply moved on. He didn’t. According to the first-person account I read on The Root, the officer didn’t do that, ignored reasonable requests by Gates, and was joined by numerous police officers for backup. Gates, likely tired after a long flight from China only to be greeted by a front door that was disabled in what may have been an attempted break-in, was likely offended that the officer didn’t immediately bring the matter to a close. As a black man, I’ve been there and can easily believe that the officer thought Gates was insufficiently deferential and was looking to knock the professor down a peg or two.
Tension between white and black men has been grounded in the historical. Paradoxically, it was white male teachings and preaching that launched the myth that black men prey on white women. Popular culture has used historical falsities to portray black men as sexual champions. Thus, the black man has been the secret fantasy of white women, when in reality – – it was the white male that served as the sexual predator. This, as well as the race for work, promoted a sense of competition between the two.
As Colin Powell stated, if you are a black male in America you have at some point in time been a victim of racial profiling. Colin stated that he too has been the victim of such profiling.