Here is my theory of Gates’s behavior in the incident last week. This man has had a privileged life from the get-go. As he himself has told in fond terms, he grew up in pleasant circumstances in a large and happy family. His career has been at the top, at Harvard, the head of the Black Studies Department, with his own TV documentaries, the works. At the same time, as a representative of black America, he has also conveyed the message that blacks are still being grievously oppressed by whites. He himself has never been oppressed but to the contrary has lived his life as a prince of our culture. So, when Sergeant James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department showed up at Gates’s front door asking Gates to step outside and talk with him, Gates’s instantaneous reaction was: “Now it’s happening to me!” And an entire lifetime of talking about the white oppression of blacks but never having experienced it himself, erupted inside him.
From Officer Crowley’s report:
As I turned and faced the door, I could see an older black male standing in the foyer of __ Ware Street. I made this observation through the glass paned front door. As I stood in plain view of this man, later identified as Gates, I asked if he would step out onto the porch and speak with me. He replied “no I will not.” He then demanded to know who I was. I told him that I was “Sgt. Crowley from the Cambridge Police” and that I was “investigating a report of a break in progress [sic] at the residence.” While I was making this statement, Gates opened the front door and exclaimed, “why, because I’m a black man in America?” I then asked Gates if there was anyone else in the residence. While yelling, he told me it was none of my business and accused me of being a racist police officer.And that’s just the beginning.