During the absurd debate about (SCARE QUOTES) “reverse racism” surrounding Sonia Sotomayor’s forthcoming confirmation, I want to keep reminding people about instances of what our ancestors used to call “regular-ass racism.” Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested inside his fucking home by cops called when he looked suspicious trying to get inside his house. Prof. Gates refused to identify himself, because, you know, he can get away with it. Gates must have come a little too close to the academic equivalent of being in Lorenzo rolling in a Benzo for the comfort of authorities.
In all seriousness, if this is what happens to celebrated Harvard professors, imagine what happens to young black men all across America. My favorite part of the story is that Gates directed his question to his attorney who happens to be Charles-fucking-Ogletree. It has to be some consolation to be able to drop that name, a consolation most black Americans arrested for criminal possession of melanin. I don’t blame Gates one bit for allegedly telling cops – seemingly accurately – “You don’t know who you’re messing with.” It’s clear that they didn’t, but most of the time they do and we should read cases like this as synecdochal for all the police harassment that doesn’t make the front page.