Thursday, July 23, 2009

Guest Post on the Gates Incident

At The Urban Politico we're always looking to take provocative and insightful Guest commentary so if you have something to get off your chest shoot it over to us via email and we'll be glad to take a look at it. Today's Guest Post is regarding the recent Gates incident and comes to us from somebody who went to school in the battle zone area:

Real Contest

Diana Banks

The real contest in the Gates case is who should have backed down. Whose responsibility is it to de-escalate a situation that's getting out of control? Should it be the officer? Or should it be the homeowner in his own house, who pays taxes that pay the salary of the officer? People want to get all up in arms because Gates has pulled the race card, but that is not the real issue. The real issue is that for TOO LONG, Black people have been expected to cower to the police to avoid problems. People are finally saying you know what? We have a Black President - why can’t the police treat us with some respect? Why is it that an officer who has a badge and carries a gun can’t tell the difference between a common criminal and a Harvard professor? Why are people defending the fact that he can't?

Who freaking cares if Gates was racially profiled? He's going to be alright. He'll probably make some money and sell some books by gaining more fame because of the incident. What about the people who are treated this way who aren't Skip Gates? Why are they entitled to any less respect from the police than what Gates should have gotten? When young Black men are profiled and then end up in the penal system, there's no way out for them. Once a Black man has a criminal record its a wrap. Studies show that black people without records get fewer interview callbacks than white people with them!

That's why this incident is important - because it highlights something that desperately needs to be changed: the way Black and Brown people are treated by the police. This was Obama's point last night, and the one people need to be focusing on.

People who are arguing that Gates should have just been quiet - basically, that he should have just bowed down - are really just saying that nobody should be back-talking the police. They're saying that we should all just accept that this is how it is. That police should just be allowed to treat you however they want, even in your own home, ignore their own policies (in MA, officers are required to give name and badge number if requested) and arrest you if you have something to say about it.

The Author is a 2009 graduate of Harvard Law School studying for the bar exam and just wanted to offer some stream of consciousness thoughts on the recent Gates fiasco.
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