Friday, July 24, 2009

Time out for a post of irritation

For the most part I try to steer clear of politics and such on here, but sometimes even I can stay silent. Feel free to skip this post, I know that it's probably been written before by more eloquent bloggers than myself. I'm sure by now you've probably heard about this incident that has been blown completely out of proportion all the way up to an executive level. I'm so dumbfounded by the situation that I hardly know where to start.

First off, yes, racism and discrimination, unfortunately, does still exist in many places and in many forms throughout our world. I am not naive enough to think otherwise. Yes, this is a big problem that needs to be continually addressed, corrected and counteracted to the fullest extent possible. I have no problem with the "race card" when it is actually a race/religion/ethnicity related issue. More power to legitimate uses. However, the use of the race card in a completely unrelated situation just plain pisses me off. It distracts from the true issue at hand and has absolutely nothing to do with resolving the issue. It is misleading, and in my humble opinion, perpetuates racism and discrimination. It's a sad thing that many people have been conditioned through experience and teaching to expect racism, but to qualify every possible question as a race issue, is just plain ignorant. While not wholly related to this issue, I do feel the need to point out that racism and discrimination is not just reserved for people of color. I have seen and have personal encounters with incidents of reverse racism and discrimination. I don't recall the source, but I recently read a statement that tolerism is a two way street. I couldn't agree more with the sentiment.

This whole incident had nothing to do with race, and the cries of racism from this well-educated man are ridiculous and completely unfounded. Dr. Gates' behavior was absolutely unwarranted and unacceptable. Sergeant Crowley was doing his job responding to a possible break in attempt. How this has anything to do with racial profiling is beyond me. Sergeant Crowley's presence that night had nothing to do with racial profiling. Dr. Gates' behavior had nothing to do with racial profiling. Yes, racial profiling exists and unfortunately there are incidents where African Americans and others are stopped simply for being colored. That is not okay on ANY level in any situation. However, this is not such a situation.

Okay, so you happen to see a guy trying to get into a house without using a key. I could care less if he was green with purple polka dots, I would call the police and describe them as best I could, because like it or not, physical characteristics, be it skin color, eye color, facial shape, hair color, height, etc are physical descriptors that can help identify a person, criminal or otherwise. For Dr. Gates' response to and office responding to a legitimate call about the potential security issue to be uncooperative, belligerent behavior, is completely unreasonable and I would even go so far to call it irrational. After all, we know I have about zero tolerance for irrational, illogical behavior, which is probably why this incident has me so irritated. Sergeant Crowley's presence at Dr. Gates' house that night had nothing to do with the color of his skin, his religious beliefs or anything else. It had to do with a legitimate report of a possible crime. I would have expected Dr. Gates' response to have been one of cooperation and thankfulness, not outrage, belligerence and racial accusations. The police report is available and details the entire encounter. Dr. Gates was warned to calm down multiple times with the expressed consequence of legal arrest for belligerent behavior. He walked himself right into that one. It's a legitimate arrest of which he was warned. It had absolutely nothing to do with the color of his skin. It had everything to do with his outrageous and unnecessary behavior. To try and make it into a racial incident is to refuse to take responsibility for your own actions and behavior. The color of your skin does not give you license to act in this manner. I would have expected far better behavior from such a respected scholar. Heck, I'd have expected better behavior from anyone.

For President Obama to say that the police acted stupidly? First, why don't you read the report and get all of the facts before you make a statement. Period. People will respect you more if you admit that you are not fully briefed on the details of the situation and would like to refrain from comment until such time as you do have all the details. I understand that Dr. Gates is a friend of the President's. This does not give him license for poor behavior. If anything, it calls for even better behavior than one might reasonably expect. Dr. Gates, NOT President Obama, NOT Sergeant Crowley, Dr. Gates is responsible for his own actions. His actions have nothing to do with the color of his skin. He simply chose to make it an issue of his race. Now, I do not know Dr. Gates. I have no knowledge of his history with legitimate discrimination. I can certainly understand that he probably faced a great deal of challenges in working to achieve his current educational level and status. But past incidents do not give one license to behave in such a poor manner. The unwarranted use of the race card, in my opinion, weakens his position in this entire incident, which wasn't all that great to begin with. Incidents like this detract from true incidents of racism and intolerance. It's completely counterproductive and weakens the progress towards true tolerance for everyone.


13 comments:

Trooper Thorn said...

Hey, want to go on CNN as a commentator? You could be the "Counter-Point Girl".

Snazzy new graphics on your site Jaina.

Jaina said...

Trooper-Haha, ya know, I just might. Though I'd probably go crazy from all of the illogical and irrational behavior. Those things simply drive me crazy! And thank you :) They're not quite finished, but I've been working with the most amazing designer! I'll post all about it when she's finished. :)

Kimberly said...

Well said!

Petunia said...

Love your blog makeover!! :)

Renie Burghardt said...

Well said, and I agree with you 100%!

Yaya said...

The thing I try to aware of in terms of race is that if I'm describing someone I wouldn't just say 'that black person' I would say 'that one with the square glasses' or something like that, because have you noticed no one ever says 'that white person' they just describe the person without bringing race into it if the person is white. So why is it different if the person isn't white?

Jaina said...

Kym-Thank you :)

Petunia-Thanks! Me too, I'm really excited about it...will post as soon as it's completed. :)

Renie-Thank you :)

Yaya- So true. I tend to be a little sensitive to labels since learning about them in specific relation to the description of a disability. We spent a lot of time discussing this in my special education course. I try to be very careful about how I word things when it comes to labels. You definitely has an excellent point there. I'm sure we could have a huge discussion about why it's different for describing people with white skin...so many different reasons and things. It's incredibly frustrating. There is so much more to a person than the color of their skin...the color is inconsequential and has nothing to do with the content of a person's character.

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

Amen sista!

Jaina said...

Carrie- :)

meandtheblueskies said...

Wow. I mean totally wow. I have a hard time with this one because I think sometimes the media has a tendency to slant stories one way or another. I think that people of color obviously feel much differently than you do. My experience has been that it's usually somewhere closer to down the middle.

Jaina said...

Preston-I definitely agree with you about the media, they do slant it. And I do agree that I probably have a different understanding of the situation. I never meant to imply that situations like this are not race related, because they often are. I just do not see how this particular situation was related to race until people started screaming about it. I admittedly get incredibly frustrated when something that is not a race issue is turned into a race issue. By all means racism needs to be called out and dealt with, but not when it's not part of the issue. I'd love to hear more about what you meant by down the middle. And thank you for commenting with a different view point, I admire that. :)

Caffeine Court said...

As you saw on my blog. I had a warrant out for my arrest because I didn't renew my dog licenses. I was livid when the police called to tell me to post bail. But you know what? I was polite and cooperative. They were just doing their job. I just wish they would spend more time on drunk drivers and break-ins than on disorganized housewives.

Jaina said...

Jill-Wow, that's crazy! I didn't know they were so hard about that stuff...did they send you a reminder or anything? You are definitely a GOOD example of how to behave. Clearly this gentleman needs a lesson in behavior. The color of his skin or anything else is no excuse for behaving the way he did.