Gates Update: The Professor Reflects On Meeting with Crowley and the President


OBAMA GATES CROWLEY

By Gary A. Johnson

July 31, 2009

Yesterday Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. had a meeting with Sgt. James Crowley and President Obama at the White House.  In a telephone interview after leaving the White House, Gates indicated that he and Crowley would get together soon at a pub in Cambridge.

The professor and the police sergeant have been in the news since Gates was arrested by Crowley at his Cambridge home.  Many people across the country have talked about a “teachable moment.”  The most obvious “teachable moment” is that a number of white people and an equal number of black people can see the exact same patterns of fact and see two very different scenarios.

That’s not news to me, it may not be news to you, however, my unofficial findings (conversations and observations with diverse of people, most of whom are educators) reflect that more than a few people are shocked that many Americans of color see this situation differently than white Americans.

That’s not a bad thing.  It’s a “different” think that is a basis for honest dialogue about issues that have historically been emotionally charged when discussed.  That should not stop people from talking and engaging.

After reading several accounts of the meeting from Gates’ perspective, the professor proved to be serious and have a sense of humor.  Gates was quoted as saying:  “When he’s not arresting you, Sergeant Crowley is a really likable guy.”

In his interview Professor Gates noted that President Obama had “allowed us to begin to bridge our divide and make a larger contribution to American society.” “Only he could have done that.”  Professor Gates said he had spent a lot of time in the last week thinking about “the contributions the police make” and had come to appreciate them more.

“The most important thing I learned, I learned about police officers the stresses and realities of the excellent job the police do every day,” he said. “At the same time, racial profiling is a very dangerous thing with a long history, and we have to make Americans more sensitive to the realities of racial profiling.”

In an apparent gesture of goodwill Professor Gates Sergeant Crowley a signed copy of his book “Colored People,” with the inscription, “Linked together forever in history.”

“Through an accident of fate this guy and I are linked together,” he said, “and the question is how can he help end racial profiling and how can I help members of my community be sensitive to the concerns of the police? If we can do that, then James Crowley and I will have taken control of our lives and our peculiar experience together and move it out of a Tom Wolfe novel and into a positive impact.”

Professor Gates also sent a bouquet of flowers and a note to Lucia Whalen, the woman whose 911 call led to his arrest as an expression of gratitude.

Photo Credit:  Souza/The White House

Gary Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In America.com a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In America.com Blog. Gary is also the author of the new book“25 Things That Really Matter In Life.”

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3 Responses to “Gates Update: The Professor Reflects On Meeting with Crowley and the President”

  1. HAVING A BEER AT THE WHITE HOUSE WAS NOT A TEACHABLE MOMENT!

    THE ONLY LESSON: A WHITE COP WHO TAUGHT A CLASS IN RACIAL PROFILING DIDN’T LEARN ANYTHING FROM HIS OWN CLASS AND WAS REWARDED WITH A TRIP TO THE WHITE HOUSE.

    HBELL

  2. :HAVING A BEER AT THE WHITE HOUSE WAS NOT A TEACHABLE MOMENT!

    Actually I think it was, in more ways than one. . . If nothing else it was a teachable moment that two men who had a serious altercation can come together and try to make peace with each other. Personally I think that the “Beer Summit” was quite promising and wish both Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sgt. James Crowley well in their future endeavors. More power to both of them if they can reconcile and work together to improve race relations in the U.S.A. to say nothing of improve relations with the police, regardless of race.

  3. Yah yah yah. Good post but there is soooooooo much more to learn that you would not be able to explain everything. ———-> http://bit.ly/learning-software <————- Nuff said. Its free and you can learn ANYTHING. I love that site.

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