I've been toying with the notion of posting on the brouhaha over the arrest of the Harvard professor of color and the President's unwise foray into the melee. Let's start with the initial incident. Do read some of the reports as to the specifics. "You don't know who you're dealing with" Harvard professor indicates to responding policeman in all his erudite glory, that "Yo momma" is going to go outside to speak to same officer. Now anyone past the age of puberty can tell you that reference to an officer of the law's progenitrix is a sure invitation to the pokey.
Since, affirmative action or not, a Harvard academic is presumably intelligent, one can only suppose that Gates was so irate that his valor overcame his discretion. In short, he lost it. So far I've been having a bit of fun, but it bears thinking on. What is it that would affect him so? To the professor's mind, this situation was but a variant of the "driving while black," a phenomenon occurring just often enough to keep it in the back of every African-American mind. For it is the sad truth, whether discrimination or probability, every law abiding person of color is subject to false assumptions in a way his or her white brother is not.
Members of minority groups can be hypersensitive when it comes to a perceived slight, but at the same time, in some cases perception is reality. I can remember my parents with their Hispanic names and accents at the bank where they would be forced to provide all sorts of identification. Of course, they would ascribe it to discrimination. I used to think they were being hypersensitive until I noticed that when I went alone, I wasn't asked for anything of the sort.
All of this rambling leads me to my own brush with the sometime arbitrary exercise of police power, or the time when I was stopped for "driving while in a white Escort." So there I was, middle-aged friend in tow, driving in my little white Ford Escort when I was pulled over by flashing lights, etc... "What did I do?" I asked the officer with the sunglasses, doubtless affected to look cool but which looked more like he had cut them out of cellophane. I received no answer but was instead required to provide all of my papers. All this while the partner leaning over the passenger window was shaking his head and stifling a giggle. Me, I was horrified. I knew I hadn't done anything. Was there a mass murderer, drug dealer, or even teenage thief, even now making his getaway in a stolen white Ford Escort? Nah.
I decided the guy was a horse's ass. I, following operative rule number one while dealing with an officer of the law with equine tendencies, refrained from pointing out this fact. Later my friend and I decided he pulled us over thinking we were two little chippies. So while I never got any satisfaction, neither did he.