Monday, July 27, 2009

A Short Break

I want to work on Vol. 4, but they pull me back!

So, the woman who made the 911 call which led to the arrest of Skip Gates – this is the neighbor at Harvard Magazine I wrote about – is denying she is a racist on account of her color. Her lawyer – no doubt retained to negotiate a book deal or a TV appearance – says that “the fact is, she’s olive-skinned and of Portuguese descent”. That is the same as being “tobacco colored”, in the less neutral phrasing of another American of Portuguese descent. “You wouldn’t look at her and say, necessarily, ‘Oh, there’s a white woman’. You might think she was Hispanic,” says the lawyer.

Personally, whenever I see a white woman pass by, I say to myself: ‘Oh, there’s a white woman.’ I also say, ‘Oh, there’s a black woman’, when I see a black woman pass by. Until recently, I also said to myself, ‘Oh, there’s a Chinese woman’ whenever I thought I saw a Chinese woman. But sometimes I got confused or had second thoughts: ‘Oh, maybe that was not a Chinese woman. Maybe that was a Korean woman.’ So now I lump together Chinese, Korean and Japanese women, together with Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai, Filipino, Burmese and Vietnamese women and throw in Sri Lankan and even Indian women for good measure and just say to myself, ‘Oh, there’s an Asian woman.’ That is what I do in post race America when I walk down 5th Avenue.

The caller’s lawyer categorically rejected that her client ever spoke to the arresting Officer Crowley, although that is precisely what Officer Crowley has written in his report. “She went on to tell me that she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch of Ware Street,” his report says.

So of the two main characters involved in Gates arrest, at least one is a liar. Or all three, if you count the lawyer. Of course, this is no Rashomon. We see through these characters as if looking at a glass menagerie.

Finally, the caller’s lawyer finishes with this gem: “All she reported was behavior, not the skin color.”

MLK’s dream is coming close to realization. Blacks are judged not by the color of their skin but the nature of their activities on their front porch. Now that is not the same as the “content of their character”, but patience.

At times like these, I pity the poor souls who do not live in the U.S.; to think how much entertainment – incessant, polymorphous and free entertainment – they miss.

Now I really must get back to work.

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