Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

John Ridley Headshot

Gates Says What A Lot of Us Are Thinking: You Prove It!

Posted: Updated:

Who knew the black man to get the most press post-Michael Jackson would be a Harvard professor? But the story of Henry Louis Gates Jr. is making for hot copy; Gates getting busted in his own home for being "tumultuous," "secretly reading," and for "general uppitiness".

Why? Why all this interest -- besides the curiosity as to whether or not the arresting officer had ever once in his life previously used the word "tumultuous" in a sentence? I think it's 'cause the professor was putting into action what a whole lot of us were thinking: nun-uh. We're sick and tired of having to prove things to the self-righteous reactionary fringe which looks at life as one, big racial profiling traffic stop: Step out of the car Mr. President and show me your birth certificate. Ma'am, could you show me how being a "wise Latina" isn't going to infringe on my male whiteliness? This despite the fact the reactionary fringe is the one with the history of duplicity and infringing.

Culturally this "prove it" mindset dates back to the passage of the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act which put the burden on Freedmen to prove they were in fact not slaves.

You can imagine how the bulk of those cases went down in the 18th century.

Since then, people of color have had to be mindful of walking in too-nice of a neighborhood, browsing in too-swank of a store or simply taking a drive on a too-sunny day lest we have to suddenly prove civil rights which are supposed to be inalienable.

I have, however, just checked the calendar. It's not 1793 anymore.

To that end, how refreshing was it during his presser to hear the president say that the arresting officer in the Gates case acted "stupidly?" Now that that's officially out there, it's not for Gates to prove he was in the right. Let Sgt. James Crowley prove in this instance he wasn't stupid for placing a 58-year-old professor in cuffs in the middle of the day.

No, radical fringe. We're not going to prove anything to you anymore because we can show you our collective drivers licenses and birth certificates and our 17-year judicial records and any other documents or accomplishments and you'd just come up with another freak reason to deny, deny, deny.

Though you'll insist the black copters and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion real.

So, go on: collect in your basements and bomb shelters and fear chambers. Go gather your own birth certificates in plastic baggies and wave them around at your legislators. Listen to AM Radio so that the Masters of Yesterday's Technology can tell you what to think. The rest of us are above ground living in the daylight. You're welcome to join us.

Assuming you can prove you deserve to.

For more perspective please visit www.ThatMinorityThing.com.

Register To Vote