Update at the bottom - Gates accuses Crowley of fabricating police report
The Henry Louis Gates controversy with the Cambridge police is not the first time the Harvard professor has made racially based remarks. During a Q & A with Greg Hicks at the University of Washington School of Law on January 16, 2009, Professor Gates discussed the idea of having an African American family in the White House and said the following:
GATES:But I think more importantly, to me, is seeing a normal black family, a superior black family, but a normal organic nuclear family, with two little black girls running around the White House, that is a paradigm shift. I think that even the thickest, dumbest white person will understand that we are in a new world. And they’ll begin to see black people in a different way, subliminally.
But I don’t think it’s going to… Greg and I were talking about the similarities and differences of our background. We both went to white schools and there were very few black people in my school. But mine was a public school. And it was a little paper mill town in West Virginia.
We had our 40th reunion and I couldn’t go because I was out in California and I couldn’t go. But we’d been emailing each other. One of my friends, a white woman, wrote to me and she said, “Skippy, most members of our class voted for McCain.” I’m not surprised at that. They just… Two days before the election I said, “I hope you all vote because we’re about to see history being made. And none of them emailed me back.
These are working class people in the hills of West Virginia and Barack did not carry West Virginia. I don’t think they’re going to stop… They’re not going to fall in love… They loved me anyway, and the handful of black - we were all close. But they basically were racist.
Does Professor Gates usually call people who he says loved him “racists”, or is this considered a term of endearment? In this next excerpt, the professor recounts the time he attended the annual convention of the Sons of the American Confederacy with a camera crew in tow. After saying “I thought they would be bikers, big Ku Klux Klan guys and stuff,” he later said this :
Then they present an annual award — it’s like the Silver Star or something. I don’t know what it’s called, Purple Heart. But whatever the Confederate equivalent is. And they go, “This year’s recipient is Wiley Clyburn.”
And this little drum and fife corps comes in there doing “Dixie, ” and I look up, and it’s a bunch of African Americans, an African American family. Three generations. The oldest one is 90 years old, and then the mother is, you know, in her 60s, and then the daughter. I interviewed the daughter. She is a Masters Degree, she teaches in New Jersey.
It’s a very well-educated Black family, and they are descendents of this Black man who ran away from the plantation twice to join his young master on the front lines, and saved his young master’s life twice.
And they gave him, the family, their greatest — the descendents of Wiley Clyburn. Isn’t that wild? That’s amazing. So it’s all in my thing, man. It’s bad. It’s complicated. It was a complicated world back there. And I can see all the Black people in the audience think, that brother needed to go down. You know, Wiley Clyburn saving his master? Ha, ha, ha. Should have let the master go: Bye, Masser. [laughs]
Professor Gates talks further about how he viewed whites, blacks, and churches while growing up in West Virginia.:
Woman: Based upon what I have read, I just wanted to ask you what is blackness, or color, what does it mean to be a colored person in America and use the term color best out of all the terms they have for us?
GATES: Well, I call myself an African American. But as I say in that preface, when I hear the word colored, I think of a sepia period of American history, the 50’s. You know, it was an all black world. I mean, I lived in this predominantly white little town but all the church was black, not the Episcopal Church, but the real churches were black, the mill picnic was black, the family reunion was black. You know, we lived in a black world. White people didn’t intrude in our lives. Mr. Insurance Man would come by. And, that’s what we called them. They were like characters out of Dickens. You know, Mr. Insurance Man, Mr. Plumber Man, you know. So, I liked that colored world because it was very special and it was changing.
President Obama in the meantime is back pedaling so quickly on the Gates-Crowley controversy, his tele-prompter can barely keep up with him. Professor Gates has agreed to meet with Sergeant James Crowley at the White House. After accepting the invitation, the professor told the Boston Globe:
“My entire academic career had been based on improving race relations, not exacerbating them. I am hopeful that my experience will lead to greater sensitivity to issues of racial profiling in the criminal justice system. If so, then this will be a blessing for our society. It is time for all of us to move on, and to assess what we can learn from this experience.”
Before Mr.Obama’s press conference on healthcare, most Americans did not know who Henry Louis Gates was, and given the Harvard professor’s past statements on race relations, moving on is more than likely the last thing on his mind right now.
UPDATE: JULY 25 4:10 PM - ProteinWisdom.com just posted that Professor Gates is accusing Sgt. Crowley of “falsifying his police report.” The partial transcript below (courtesy of Protein Wisdom) is from a two minute interview clip of Henry Gates on Gayle King’s show from the July 24, 4 pm hour John and Ken podcast. This controversy is far from over.
Gates: I would love to meet with Sgt Crowley …
Gates: I would love for him to look me in the eye and say ‘Professor Gates, I am sorry. I am sorry for the way I treated you. I am sorry for the fabrications I..I had to put in that report. And if he’s sincere, I would forgive him as a human being.
Gates: Gayle, I want to make a documentary for PBS or HBO or some place on racial profiling … on this kind of arbitrary and unacceptable behavior on behalf of the police force.
King: He has said that he is not going to apologize to you, that he has nothing to apologize for. What do you think about that?
Gates: Ah, well I think that he is probably trying to protect himself. I think he feels very vulnerable. Uh, I think he knows that (a) what he did was wrong and (b) that, um, he falsified his report.