Whether it was racial profiling, police power brandishing, or just male testosterone unleashed, the Henry Louis Gates-James Crowley incident and its aftermath implore more questions that need honest and open discussion if we are to move beyond the labeling and stop falling into the same old racial rut – more like racial pit.
James Crowley, Henry Louis GatesAn overriding question: Why do we continually avoid confronting matters of race that is such a part of our daily lives – in blatant and subliminal ways – across America and across the world?
But before we venture abroad, let the focus be at home.
Until we are willing to take inventory on an individual, group and societal level, of all those factors – factual and fictional – that shape our attitudes and actions as we interact with others who are different from ourselves, race will remain the “tempest in the teapot.”
What would otherwise be considered as everyday encounters and common conflicts take on a life of their own, fueled by the racial stereotypes and labels that we hang on to and allow to order our world view. Do we care whether they are accurate or inaccurate? Are we afraid to examine their veracity, for fear it might lead us out of our comfort zone, shatter the monochromatic world to which we predictably retreat? Do we really believe we have more to gain by remaining cloistered and close-minded than seeking the truth about others unlike ourselves?
What about the enlightenment and richness that awaits us if we break through the blinders of racial bigotry on all sides? How many more Crowley-Gates like-incidents will it take for us to finally get to the heart of the matter: stop jumping the gun, stop over- or under- reacting, stop retreating or raging, stop denying or over-compensating, stop being reticent or overly being eager – just stop the extremes when it comes to race.
Real improvement in race relations begins and grows with how we think, act and react in our daily encounters. Until our extreme reactions, when it comes to matters of race cease, normalcy, in all its meaning, will continue to elude us as a society.
So will greatness.