Racism Has Roots in a Limiting Social System

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 29, 2009 | Go to article overview

Racism Has Roots in a Limiting Social System


"I hate to admit it, but I have reached a stage in my life that if I am walking down a dark street late at night and I see that the person behind me is white, I subconsciously feel relieved." the Rev. Jesse Jackson

Slavery and racism have been like a soiled garment that America has diligently and at great expense tried to wipe clean. President Obama acknowledged at his news conference last week that America has made "great progress" in the direction of racial reconciliation, and he is living proof of that.

Having acknowledged these truths, what should be learned from the incident in Cambridge, Mass., in which African-American scholar Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. was arrested in his home after a neighbor, Lucia Whalen, called 911 to report "two men" on Gates porch trying to force open the front door. According to a statement issued by her attorney and backed by Robert Haas, commissioner of the Cambridge police, she did not mention the race of the two men. If Whalen were African-American would that change the dynamic of the conversation were having? That two of the officers who came to Gates home were minorities one African-American, one Hispanic apparently doesnt count because the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, is white. It also doesnt count that Crowley teaches a class on racial profiling and that he was named to that post by his boss, an African-American, who attests to his non-racist bona fides.

Like President Obama, I know Skip Gates. He recently gave me a personal tour of the African-American museum at Harvard. He is a classy guy with excellent social skills and a sharp mind.

I wasnt at the scene of the Cambridge confrontation. If one accepts the police report, Gates apparently said things he ought not to have said. It certainly is human nature. …

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Racism Has Roots in a Limiting Social System
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