Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Different Kind of Racial Equation

When news analyst, Juan Williams, spoke yesterday on NPR's "All Things Considered" about the President's criticism of the Cambridge police officer who arrested Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Williams didn't downplay the history of racial profiling and the statistics that show that blacks are stopped by police more often.

He indicated that this case may not be the traditional case of discrimination against an African-American because of his race. In his view, class and race may be an issue in the Gates arrest, but not in the traditional way. Williams points out the class issue by indicating the elite-status conferred upon Gates by his professorship at Harvard, and his attempt to demonstrate it by displaying his Harvard ID to the police officer. Williams then describes how the racial component is different.
[R]emember, the governor in Massachusetts is black. The mayor of Cambridge is black. The president of the United States is black. So all of a sudden you have a different kind of racial equation where the power and upper class status attaches to the black man, not to the white man.
Perhaps this is why there isn't much of an outpouring of vocal support for Gates even among black community leaders.

The civil rights struggle has traditionally been centered on racial divisions. By focusing on divisions of power and class, the racial divisions break down.

Our President is walking a fine line emphasizing the racial divisions while ignoring on which side of the "different" racial equation he stands.

No comments: