The Professor Gates Incident

A white mom of a biracial family reacts to the Professor Gates incident
1 / 2

In the News

The Professor Gates Incident

A white mom of a biracial family reacts to the Professor Gates incident

-Jennifer Trannon

Henry GatesMy husband and I, my friends tease, talk about everything. Incessantly. Interestingly, even when we agree on a topic, we will talk it to death. Such has been the case with the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. We have spent hours discussing it.

Truth be told, cases involving race generally spark our interest more than others. Since my husband is black and I am white, we bring different backgrounds and experiences to the table, so it is still interesting for us to hear each other’s “take” on the issue.

In the case of Professor Gates’ arrest, we were in almost total agreement. Our strongest feeling is that it is impossible to know what really happened inside that house, because it’s all he said / he said. The truth, I am sure, is somewhere in the middle. But we talked about it for hours anyway. And our “takes” might surprise you.

In our humble opinions …

Was race an issue? Yes, no and yes. Yes, I think the woman who began the whole drama by calling to report that two black men were trying to force their way into a house (leaving out the details that one was a middle-aged man dressed in a polo and walking with a cane and the other was his driver – presumably with the car he had used to transport the professor from the airport still in front of the house) was probably influenced by race. I do believe if they had been two white men she would not have been so quick to call it in, especially since it was 1:00 in the afternoon. No, I don’t think that race played a part in the police responding to the call. I think they would have responded to any call of a potential break-in. Yes, I think race may have played a part in the officer continuing to question Gates after Gates had proved he did in fact live there. Why? Just a gut feeling.

Was Gates partially to blame? Eh, I say, shrugging my shoulders. Probably. He was probably pissed and embarrassed and indignant. It is possible that he thought he was “above all that.” It’s also possible that he was thinking, or maybe even saying, “How dare you treat me like this! Don’t you know who I am?” If I were Henry Louis Gates, I would be thinking that! And that police officer probably felt indignant about Gates’ indignation, and set out to prove that Gates actually isn’t above all that. So, my best guess is that, as one columnist stated so eloquently, this may have been less about race than it was about the battle of two egos.

follow BettyConfidential on... Pinterest

Read More About...
Related Articles...

0 thoughts on “The Professor Gates Incident

  1. This is a great article you make some really good points. I also agree that the arrest was probably about two egos! And I agree that while these things shouldn’t happen, each time they do and make big headlines they’re teaching people.

  2. I love that President Obama invited the police officer and Prof Gates to the White House to talk about it. That’s exactly the kind of response we need when things like this happen — COMMUNICATION. I admire that Pres. admitted he was wrong to speak off the cuff and say the police dept acted “stupidly”, when he didn’t have all the details. So often, people are afraid to even have these dialogues. Here’s hoping something GOOD comes out of this!

  3. I like this article a lot and I have to say I really agree with most of what you said. Last year I was dog sitting for a friend and set off the alarm on her house, I didn’t think much of it and proceeded to take the dog for a walk. When I got back the cops were there and all I said was sorry and they just laughed and left. Why didn’t they at least ask me a few questions or call to corroborate the story?

  4. I can only say that we need to stand behind our police officers. If we don’t, we may someday have none. Let’s turn the table around. Let’s say a white man was trying to break into his own home. Let’s say that a black police officer came and the exact scenario happened. Do you believe that it would be racial profiling? Why not? I have watched Cops many times and if they argue and try to cause havoc, they are always arrested! Black, white, Mexican, it just doesn’t matter! All Gates had to do was show his ID and try to act in a civil manner. Is that so difficult? It is certainly what I or any intelligent human would do. It could have ended within minutes if Gates had only cooperated. He was looking for a fight. I think our policemen, of any color or race, deserve our praise and our support. If you keep taking away all of their rights, we will all be robbed, raped and killed. Gates was wrong. And even worse, Barack Hussein Obama was 100% wrong to ever comment on the incident. What would he have said if it was a white man who got arrested by a black cop? Who is prejudiced here? He could easily incited a race riot. I have nothing against Gates other than the fact that he should not have been trying to push his weight around and should have kept his mouth shut!

  5. And rosie818, it is easy to see why they laughed and left! You said sorry and you had the dog. Why weren’t you shouting racial slurs and refusing to show your ID? That is the point here folks. You get what you ask for and Gates definitely asked for it!

  6. Well, by all accounts, Gates did show his I.D. when asked, but the officer continued to question him after he showed his I.D. The last time I checked, arguing wasn’t against the law.

    As for the question of whether it would have been racial profiling if the situation was reversed. . . well, I don’t believe the term racial profiling was ever used in the article. And yes, it’s possible that if the homeowner was white and the argument was with a black police officer questioning him needlessly, I would think that race could have been part of the issue. Whenever there is conflict between black and white, race is a possible factor– possible being the key word.

  7. Kitty,
    Why does it bother you? I didn’t pick that name, he did. I just wanted to clarify who we were talking about. He must be proud of it. Frankly, I like Barry Sotero better. But to each his own. The article talked about Henry Louis Gates so why not Barack Hussein Obama?
    And Ivory Keys, I did not say racial profiling. Mr Gates kept calling the police officer a racist. I KNOW that blacks are treated unfairly and I know there is alot of racism that still exists but I think it is being over used. I would be the first one to stand up for Mr Gates if had acted civilized. If he had just told the officer right away who he was and explained about the lost key, I am sure it would have been over. But his comments toward the officer and his mother were uncalled for. I have never been one to be prejudiced against any race but I am prejudiced again people who act like idiots. Maybe some of you should have lived through the race riots and the black only restaurants, stores, etc. We have come so far on this issue and it can only get better. Gates and BO might have set us back several years though. What a shame for all.

  8. This article is right-on. The only thing I have to add is that if this were a “white” homeowner, our President would have never been asked what he thought. If our President was white, he would NEVER have been asked his opinion of what happened. Let’s take the color of his skin out of the equasion and treat him as our President. He has too many imortant things going on to even be questioned about an incident like this one; it was done more to try and trip him up than to actually ask his opinion. He has been picked on several times for just answering like a human being instead of waiting and giving a scripted answer. At least he does admit when he responds in a manner not considered “politically” correct.

    I am white, I voted for President Barack Obama, I support him in his job of trying to do the best job he can with what he’s got and the country as it was handed to him.

    P.S. He didn’t pick his name – his Mom did.

  9. The way I see it, if you go through your school years with one name, why would you change it as an adult? He had choices and he CHOSE to go by BHO whether his mother named him that or not. Why the sudden change? It was his choice. I must agree that the President wouldn’t have been asked because he was the one who chose that question to be asked. He wanted to make his feelings known and he is the one who acted stupidly.

  10. Daym1, I think it’s not all that useful to ask whether ‘it would be called racial profiling if it had been a white man and a black police officer’. It’s not *white* men who are affected disproportionately by racial profiling.

Leave a Reply

top of page jump to top