OPINION: The Jailhouse Conversion of Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr.

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FIRST THINGS FIRST

Professor Gates was ridin’ wordy.
Skippy was lippy.
Shawty was uppity.

Is this a crime? Not necessarily. The heated debate in the media and the blogosphere proves it is a gray area. This is definitely not a clear case of racial profiling, which by definition is black and white. Racial profiling and police abuse of power are too serious for this flap with Professor Gates to be held up as the poster child for them. This is not Sean Bell. Gates is not Abner Louima. This is not Jena 6. The litmus test should be clear -No Rev. Al? No racial profiling. Gates and those who take his point of view are trying to make this a bigger racial Rorschach test than the OJ case. A blow against the post-racial society, a referendum on the state of the Black American Dream and a barometer of Racial Justice. Naw bruh.

THE FACTS

Let’s a assume the police officer’s Arrest Report is “pure fiction” as Professor Gates has said. Just read the facts from Professor Gates’ point of view here. If this was racial profiling it would have gone down like this: Neighbor calls in a suspected break-in with two Black suspects. Cop arrives. Sees Gates is Black. Pulls gun. Gates get down on the floor. Gates gets his hands cuffed behind his back. Gates is dragged out to the porch on his knees and is put on display for the whole neighborhood to see while the cops ransack the house looking for the guns and the dope. How many times have you driven by a Black man cuffed, sitting on the curb while one officer searches his car, trunk up, doors wide open and another cop sits in a cruiser running his driver’s license for warrants? That’s what racial profiling look like. We have all seen it.

I think it is safe to say there will be no FREE SKIP G. T-Shirts at the Tom Joyner Black Family Reunion in Orlando this Labor Day Weekend.

STREET LAW 101

I did not interact with Skip Gates’ lawyer and friend Professor Charles Ogletree while I was at The Law School. But”Tree”, as he is known to the legions of Harvard Law students he has mentored (including the Obamas), subsequently appeared in a Court TV special I produced “Hip Hop Justice” and is as good a brother as you will find in America. Professor Gates should join him the next time Tree takes his Street Law Clinic to Black teens in Roxbury and Dorchester where he teaches youngsters how to talk to police with respect while maintaining their own dignity. Professor Gates clearly failed on both counts and will forever be known as the Harvard professor who got arrested -at his own house–for talking down to the police.

How do I know he was talking down to the police? Because he has been talking down to people for years. See an example here  –where Gates tells Blacks we need to learn the proper “language of the marketplace” to be successful. If he would talk down to his own race from the editorial pages of the New York Times why wouldn’t he talk down to the police from the comfort of his own home?

THE JAILHOUSE CONVERSION

Now to the jailhouse conversion -Professor Gates claims he is going use all of his influence and media attention to root out racial profiling all over the country via a PBS Special. Great. But just like the intermittent jailhouse conversion(s) of my brother and uncle, I’ll believe it when I see it. That four hour bid really did a number on Professor Gates. His characterization of his state of mind/being in the interviews since the arrest are telling…”I can’t believe”, “I’m astonished”, “I never thought”, “I didn’t realize”, “I felt violated”, “I had a bronchial infection contracted on my trip to China, so I couldn’t talk loud to the officer even if I wanted to”, “I just had hip replacement”, “I am disabled”, “I get claustrophobia”, “I’m only 5′ 6″ and 150lbs” , “I felt violated all over again”, “I’m a Black man in America”, “He (the cop) was terrified that I could be dangerous to him.”

Gates even went so far as to say the cop should have turned groupie once he found out who he was. Gates in his own words

“He should have gotten out of there and said, “I’m sorry, sir, good luck. Loved your PBS series-check with you later!” If he would have given me his card I would have sent him a DVD!”

That’s the real Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

PRESIDENT OBAMA CO-SIGNS. Sorta.

Now I know President Obama co-signed for Professor Gates in last night’s prime-time Press Conference. He has since had his spokesperson Robert Gibbs walk that support back a bit. I feel the President, Gates is his friend. He admitted he was biased before he answered the question and we all give immunity and have blind spots for our friends and family. My dear, lovely, wife has a cousin in jail for drug dealing who she swears is wrongfully convicted. But when push comes to shove she wouldn’t let him keep his things at our house for little while. By the same token, I bet your bottom dollar there are two places the President, nor the rest of us, would not take Professor Gates. 1. To a fight and 2. To talk to the police.

Go easy.

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