A Note On Racial Profiling



Did the recent arrest of Harvard Professor Skip Gates send a signal to the Black community that our President who is Black could have easily also been arrested for breaking into his own home? Just think about it? Professor Gates is a world renowned scholar. He is well known throughout the academic world and even by some that do not aspire to be historians or social scientists. Also Professor Gates most likely is very well known in the community in which he lives that is in close proximity to the Harvard campus in which he works.


So how did the officer come up with enough reason to arrest someone that had clearly proved that he was the lawful resident of the house he entered? Why didn’t the officer just leave? What happened? What would you have done if you returned from a trip to China to your house tired and frustrated. Meanwhile your door jams and you have to force yourself into your own residence. In the meantime someone calls the police believing that two men are breaking into your house.


So when Professor Gates proved by his identification that he lived at that address and worked at Harvard that should have been the end of the matter. Now what would have been your attitude if the officer continued to belabor the situation, for what? Just how many people would have not been HIGHLY irritated to be accused of breaking into their own home? Also just how many tempers would have been challenged in the case of someone with a mission to punish you for raising your voice in your own home?


Police are to be loved and respected. My brother-in-law (Ralph ‘Big Ralph’ Cothran) former Police Chief of Chattanooga, Tennessee who passed on in 1996 always told me he did not like the term cops.  (See Big Ralph: Reflections of a Black Police Chief, Psyche Z Publishing, 1997 by Carl A. Patton). Chief Cothran also had an expressed mission to mend the historical friction between the Black community and the local police. This included racial profiling and police brutality. The word Cop to describe a police officer is a demeaning term. They are police officers. However we all are human. Professor Gates was upset and so was the officer. However do you have some legal right to be upset in your own home when accused of breaking and entering your place of residence. When the breaking and entering issue was resolved the case should have ended. However Professor Gates does not have to right to physically assault the officer or tongue lash him beyond words. But let’s be real. This should never have happened in the first place.


So racial profiling or not. We all must be aware of the circumstances of a given situation. With that said we must move to work out our difficulties in a fair and equitable manner. This did not happen. Could this have happened to any Black man? Why?


Carl A. Patton, FreedomJournal Press 6 August 2009 in the year of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.




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