Friday, July 24, 2009

Maybe not racism, but racial attitudes?

About 12 years ago, or so, the Sons visited my parents for a few days.
Yeah, that meant my parents had four children under the age of five in their house at the same time. It was, to say the least, an adventure.

Part of that adventure included the police.

Son #1 dialed the police; my parents had it on speed-dial, so he only had to hit one button. The police called the house, and my dad explained that no, they didn't need to come out, it was just his little scamp of a grandson who did not sit still until he was sound asleep (and even then there was no guarantee, dear God that child did not sit still).

A few minutes later, Son #1 did it again.

This time, the police did not call. They showed up. My father explained, again, that they were just a little overwhelmed with the grandkids, and they were sorry for wasting the police's time, and they'd move that phone up to where a 4-year-old couldn't reach it.

And the police said, basically, that's all fine, but we still need to come in and look around.

So, my Dad invited them in. They looked at the house. They looked at my parents. They looked at the 4 wilding children. They confirmed that all was as my father said it was. Because, well, if my Dad had been held at gunpoint he might have said exactly the same thing.

It is the police's job to take seriously any call they get. Someone reports a crime, the police have to investigate. And my parents, as mortified as they were at the time, were also well aware that the police were there to help them out. That their intentions were noble and honorable. That if things were different, my parents would have been beyond grateful for the prompt and thorough attentions of the police.

So when Henry Louis Gates was asked to step out onto his porch, after neighbors reported a break-in at his house (a second break-in, apparently--the police had been there before while Gates was on vacation) and he shouted, "Why, because I'm a Black man in America?"

Well, it makes me think that it was not the police behaving badly, but the citizen jumping to race-based conclusions.

Racism is real. People get judged because of the color of their skin. I'm not saying that is not true. But I just think that in this case the cops were not the racist ones. They were just trying to protect the home owner from repeated crime.


Anonymous said...

Not a lot has riled me more than this story that I caught up on yesterday. It seems our first black president, Barak Obama, had nothing better to do than to run down a Cambriage PD officer. Forget a 20 cent hike in gas in one day, or a failing health care system. Not to mention millions out of work.

And Mr. Gates, I call you that because no academian that plays the race card that loosely from the sleeve deserves to be referred to as "doctor", you are an A$$ of the highest order.

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

I thought the story was that he was still arrested even after he proved he lived there? Or was that more to that story?

Sounds like an exciting time for your parents! My boy called 9-1-1 when he was three. I was in the next room and came running in when I heard his seriously little voice carefully saying, "Nine. One. One." They had taught it to him in school.