It was a very controversial arrest that rang not just within the locality of Massachusetts but has echoed as an international dispute. What we are talking about in here is the contentious arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates by Sgt James Crowley together with other Cambridge police officers. The incident that relives the heat of the racism discussions happened 16th of July 2009 in Ware Streets, Cambridge, Massachusetts when a 911 call prompted the Cambridge Police Department about two males who seemed to be prowlers trying to break into one of the residences in the said place.
The police officers responded to this alarming call from Lucia Whalen which led to the arrest of Professor Gates. (Trujillo) It is not surprising to hear two different tales from two different authors. What happened between police officers responding and the professor’s arrest is a story of a split version. In one hand Sgt Crowley and the rest of the team who responded to this very particular incident reasoned out that the detainment was due to “disorderly conduct” of Mr. Gates.
For the party this would be sufficient enough to justify the arrest of the professor despite the fact that he was able to identify himself as the owner of the place he was reported to be breaking in. On the other hand Professor Henry Louis Gates strongly believed that a noticeable issue of racism was behind his arrest. This confrontation disturbed the public for several gray areas can be found in the story. People of course are divided by their own opinions regarding this matter. Who is right and who is wrong?
Who acted accordingly and who delineated from what is proper? This issue reminds me of a cliche that is indeed of great value-it takes two to tango. Never was there an instance where a fire is ignited by a single force alone. What happened in Massachusetts in Professor Gate’s home shouldn’t have taken place if both of them analyzed the situation in the most critical manner. However even tough it’s true that it takes two to tango; we always have to remember that someone has to take the first step always.
According to the news police officers reported that Professor Gates shouted at them and inculpated them with being racially biased officers. (Fox News) Moreover, police reports said that Gates displayed rough behavior with them with his strong belief that everything is all about his color and even warned the officers that they do not know who they are messing with. (Thompson) With these alleged display of behavior we definitely can say that Professor Gate really was moving and acting with his emotions in his head.
It is always a weakness for someone to cling with his or her emotional outrages if he or she wanted to be critical in thinking for he or she demarcates him/herself from reason. Professor Gates is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor who is also cradling the responsibility of being the Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. This highly-acclaimed cultural critic also is the editor-in-chief of the online magazine centering on the interests of African American people. Studies) Having these entire in mind we can say that professor Gates really must be sensitive about the issue of race and racial discrimination. Thus having a seemingly first hand experience of it would definitely ignite a hot temper. Maybe things would have gotten a different way if Professor Gates was able to recognize his own biases and assumptions in reference to the point of view of the cops. This is a prerequisite for self awareness that is needed for one to be critically mindful.
Also weighing of the scope and gravity of evidences would have helped Professor Gates in handling the situation in a lighter way. The main concern that has led Sgt James Crowley and team to the doorsteps of Professor Gates was the alleged burglary and although it wasn’t a smooth flowing type of talking the fact that the professor was able to identify himself as the resident of the place should have ended everything. However, it did not. Being accused of stealing something that belonged to you wouldn’t make you feel okay.
Instinct would definitely trigger a negative emotion that might lead to series of acts that aren’t mindful at all. Sgt Crowley could have saved a better encounter with the professor if he was able to control his seemingly egotistical judgment and if he has been open to several other ways of understanding the entire situation. Moreover, if Sgt Crowley was also able to recognize emotional whims before he acted upon the situation, things should have gone differently. It is the two sides of the coin that this article is looking at.
If you ask me who between the two let their ego move them, well it’s both of them. And for who made the first step, maybe it doesn’t matter for they both let a disturbing dance reach the international stage that even President Obama have had something to say. In response to a question thrown on him regarding Professor Gate’s arrest, President Obama mentioned three interesting comments. “But I think it’s not fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry. No. 2, the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. And No. what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately, and that’s just a fact. ” (Fox News) This comment also generated a controversy around the international arena.
Cops not just in Massachusetts reacted negatively on what Obama said in the conference. Good thing the president knew what to do. The “beer summit,” which was a talk initiated by the President himself to end the dispute and issue for once has cooled both parties and solved the problems. Fox News) Both parties were held together after the conversation at the White House and Professor Gates who previously is planning a lawsuit against Sgt Crowley is no longer talking about this after being able to know Sgt Crowley better with the help of the invitation for a conversation by the president. Moreover in an email to Boston Globe, Gates stated that he was ready to move on pass that arresting experience. With a cooler head Gates even identified his experience to be adding up to the history of race relations in the entire America. (Fox News)
Sgt James Crowley continued being silent about the issue even after the talk over beers in the White House. After the incident, all ends well. Everyone is back doing their own profession. It is really important to keep in mind that actions moved by emotional outrage wouldn’t serve anything nice at all. It is indeed being in the height of an emotion that we would least do decision making and talking. Self restraint will be the best guide if we know how to master it. People are certainly different creatures for two reasons; emotion and reason.
Both are powerful thus it can make us or break us if we wouldn’t know how to control them. A person who can control his or her emotion and who knows how to use reason is unlikely to be involved in problematic situation such as this incident. I believe that both Professor Gates and Sgt Crowley know how to handle the situation. I think they both know what to do and what not to do in that very scenario it is just that the emotional height and egotistical concerns reigned more rather than reason.
And there started the problem which actually could have been prevented if both take even just a few seconds to think before they have acted. This might be easier said than done but it is ideal. It is not perfection that we want; it is just all about maximizing the capability of man over his or her emotions. In every situation we always wanted to do the right thing, we always wanted to be critical so as to lessen any mistakes in the decisions we make or words we say or things we do.
Being critical though is not an easy task; it takes a lot of maturity and open-mindedness, rationality and judgment. In addition to this, it needs practice-continuous practice for it to be a habit. Professor Gates and Sgt Crowley both have a contribution to why that incident occurred in the first place thus having an equal share of a kind of publicity whether positive or negative that would leave a mark in their lives as they leave marks in human’s history.
Courtney from Study Moose
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