Okay. I’m assuming you’ve heard about the situation where Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a prominent black Harvard professor, was arrested recently, which led to allegations of racism by a police officer. Even President Obama responded yesterday that the police “acted stupidly”. The incident has brought up a lot of conversations of how America is not a post-racism nation, that in fact racism is just as present today as it was during the Jim Crow days (which I would agree with and assume many of you will too).
Please hear my heart that I am certainly in no way condoning racism. And I’m not naïve enough to flippantly say that I’m not racist. I do, however, try to capture racist and stereotyping thoughts and ideas before they produce words or actions and conform them to the teachings and example of Jesus.
I think that’s as fair and honest of a statement I can make.
But here is what I’m conflicted about (in light of the limited amount of information I’ve heard and read).
I was raised and taught to respect the men and women who serve our communities with a badge. I can think they are jerks. I can think they unfairly wrote me a speeding ticket. I can think they are hypocritical when they drive their supped up Dodge Chargers faster than the speed limits themselves. I can even have opinions on how they do their job. But outside of an excessive abuse of their powers I should respect and honor their authority they have and the pressure and position placed on them because of it.
If they ask me a question I should respectful respond (with an answer or not; I have first amendment rights).
If they ask me to pull my vehicle over I should pull over.
If they are responding to a 911 call about two men breaking into a home, even if it was me breaking into my own home, I should patiently and respectfully help him decipher the truth.
That’s how I should respond.
That’s how a white youth pastor should respond.
That’s how a Hispanic off duty policeman should respond.
That’s how a Asian female politician should respond.
That’s how a prominent black Harvard professor should respond.
The cause of this arrest, to me, seems to be not one of race or position, but of obedience and respect to authority.
I would ask that if you see me being obstinate to a police officer who is just trying to his/her job (cautious about whether or not I have a weapon, am on drugs or just violent) please lock me up for the evening so that my attitude may be adjusted.
Racism is obviously still a issue to be addressed in our nation.
But in this situation, again – from what little I’ve read or heard, Gates sounded like a travel weary man who reacted to a diligent police officer in an inappropriate way, and only delayed the nap he was in desperate need of.
Now I’m going to stop before my rambling opinion unintentionally offends.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Am I off base? Should I correct some of my thinking?