About 10 years ago, I was crossing the international border to the United States from Mexico with my cousin, who is a Mexican citizen. She was going to visit me for a few days.
The ICE officer she was speaking to about a tourists visa was outrageously rude. She is a retired school teacher, which is stated on her I.D. Instead of using the word "retirada" (retired), he said she was "retardada" (retarded). She and I were shocked at his audacity. Yet, neither one of us said anything. You cannot say anything to an ICE officer, or he'll find a way to make your life miserable. In that particular situation, she would not have been able to cross over with me.
What my cousin experienced, and many other people who cross into the U.S. (and millions of Latinos and Blacks who encounter police officers who are rude, cruel, mean, or inappropriate).
This is what happened to Henry Louis Gates. It is what some people call "living while black." Well there is also a "living while Latino."
As Bob Herbert says so eloquently, Gates' mistake was to yell at the officer. The officer's mistake was to arrest a man who already proved he was breaking the door to his own home.
Obama's remark about it being "stupid" - was not off the mark. He was reacting to an ridiculous situation that happens continuously to Black and Latino men. Being President, his choice of words could have been better - but what he said was true. I wonder how many times in his life he was treated disrespectfully because he is Black...
Anger Has Its Place
By BOB HERBERT
Published: July 31, 2009
...Most whites do not want to hear about racial problems, and President Obama would rather walk through fire than spend his time dealing with them. We’re never going to have a serious national conversation about race....link to complete NYT article