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Posted by on Jul 30, 2009 in Arts & Entertainment | 16 comments

At Last. Racism is Dead in the Northeast

There’s been a plethora of coverage, both here and elsewhere, of the “Gates-Gate” affair currently choking the news cycle to death. Of course, most of these people are choosing to focus on “teachable moments” and the “status of black-white relations” and blah, blah, blah, blah. Sadly, what most of these analysts are missing is the good news underlying the affairs of the last week, and that is that racism, while perhaps not entirely dead, is on its last legs in the Northeast.

How so, you ask? For my first bit of evidence, I offer none other than Henry Lewis Gates himself, as examined and covered by Daily Show Senior Black Correspondent Larry Wilmore. (Partial transcript follows, but the whole bit is great.)

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Henry Louis-Gate – Race Card
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Joke of the Day

Wilmore: For God’s sake, John, they call him “Skip.” This tricycle riding caramel man took one look at that white cop and he became Blacky McBlack.

When the officer asked Gates to step outside, he said, “Yeah. I’ll speak with your mamma outside.”

He really said, “Your mamma?” Did he suddenly start channeling Rerun from Good Times? As Wilmore said, he must have been waiting to use that one since the Carter administration.

Our second example provides even more evidence, and comes to us from Boston, and the sad case of police officer Justin Barrett. (WARNING: I’m going to quote something Barrett said, so if you are easily offended, you might consider stopping right here.)

A Boston police officer who sent a racially charged e-mail protesting newspaper coverage of the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. apologized Wednesday night and said “I am not a racist.”

Justin Barrett, 36, admitted using the term “jungle monkey” in writing about the arrest of the Harvard professor by a Cambridge police sergeant.

“It was a poor choice of words. I did not mean to offend anyone,” Barrett told NewsCenter 5’s Cheryl Fiandaca.

Now, when I first heard this, I thought, “Uh oh. This is bad.” And make no mistake… this guy has to be fired. Sorry, man, but you can’t say something like that and keep your job as a cop. You’re done.

But I was still left scratching my head, because something just wasn’t right with this story. “Jungle Monkey?” Is that what he said? That didn’t ring any bells. It was only after I finally recalled this classic 1970’s skit from Saturday Night Live between Richard Pryor and Chevy Chase that I realized what had gone off the beam.

Yes, Barrett was making his best effort to be an ignorant, bigoted racist, but he got the wrong animal. He meant to say “bunny,” not “monkey!” And even if he’d managed to get it right, I mean, come on man… “Jungle Bunny?” Nobody’s used that one in the last quarter century. Dude… attend a Klan meeting. Sign up for a Stormfront account. Do something. I didn’t think it was possible, but you’re being an embarrassment to all of the real racists in the country today. Do some research.

So, getting back to our original topic, why does this mean that racism is nearly wiped out in the Northeast? Because these people are absolutely terrible at it! Gates gets in a confrontation with a white cop and the best he can do is dredge up a tag line from an early Eddie Murphy movie? And the most definitively racist cop we can find can’t even keep his racial epithets straight? These people have no clue what they’re doing in the race wars, and it’s because they simply don’t have any experience at it.

And that’s why this story ultimately has a happy ending. The only race wars you can find these days in the Northeast are being waged by rank amateurs.

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • Father_Time

    Jungle boogie……eeeek…eeeek…..Jungle boogie…….yeah…..
    Kool & the Gang

    Can you play the dozens Jazz?

  • TheLid

    Come on Jazz, haven’t you considered that this whole damned thing was all staged for a college professor to get a free beer? (You know its not for the cop’s sake because there are no donuts)

  • Speaking as a nearly 2/3 Caucasian American, I insist you henceforth refer to me as “melanin challenged.”

  • StockBoySF

    Maybe they are just amateur racists with training wheels who will be professional racists in a few years?

    Actually I think it’s an interesting premise in your post. And something to think about…

    After all, the way the NE goes, so goes the rest of the country…. From the founding of our country centuries ago, to the more current gay marriage decisions…. 🙂

    Thanks, Jazz!

  • Just…wow. First, your thesis partially relies on a “your mamma” jibe being a racial slur, when I think most people think of it as an across the board jerk move. Square peg, round hole. Unless you’re saying that the mere expression of Blackness (even of the stereotypical type) is somehow racist. Because in that case, I’ll point you instead to Stephen Colbert:—neutral-man-s-burden.

    Related: while I’m sure that Gates was an imperious jerk (he has a Ph.D. the odds are 60/40 in favor of jerkiness when you limit it to humanities Ph.D.s) but I don’t think either of them were telling the absolute truth. If I had arrested someone without cause, I’d pad the story to make them look terrible too. Now, I think that because I’d think a Harvard professor and all-around respectable type like him would stick to variations of “do you know who I am.” I’m very willing to acknowledge that I might be wrong (I wasn’t there), but if you think police officers never lie in their reports, I’d encourage you to look up the name Agnes Lawless.

  • casualobserver

    @@If I had arrested someone without [email protected]@

    Stop insulting people’s intelligence………..fine, the disorderly conduct is a judgemental call that is routinely dropped, and the cop would know it wouldn’t go anywhere near a court docket……….however, if Gates is such an intelligent person and represented by a Harvard Law School Dean no less, doesn’t at least the first 5 of your IQ points suggest to you that “without cause” would have been immediately filed against if your words were actually true?

  • What’s your point? Look, the race thing’s neither here nor there, but if you’re going to support arresting 60 year old jerks in their own home once they’ve established that they live there just to prove some point, then that’s on you. The police have guns and power, and I’m not comfortable with them being able to arrest people in their homes. I realize things happen, but I am 1 million percent uncomfortable for normalizing that sort of behavior from the police. If he wasn’t doing anything illegal, why should people be okay with him just getting arrested? You realize that this could happen to you and, unless you’re famous and I don’t know it, you’d likely be screwed. I think jails are for criminals and that we as a society should demand that. Call me crazy. Yes, the are a million situations where police are in danger or possible danger and have to make snap judgments. This wasn’t one of them.

  • Jeebus, I have GOT to petition T-Steel to bring back my satire tag.


  • GeorgeSorwell

    Jeebus, I have GOT to petition T-Steel to bring back my satire tag.

    Sure, go ahead and blame your problems on a black man. 😉

  • Lit3Bolt

    Don’t be silly, Jazz. The Northeast solved racism for all time when they won the Civil War centuries ago. They built the massive ghettos of South Side Chicago and Harlem as monuments to this lasting achievement.

  • joemechanic

    Profiling – what is it and why is it not a good thing? We do it every moment of every waking day. Correction, 24 -7 in this digital age.
    We are profiled on the Net, in the supermarket, at the bank, your service companies such as electric, gas, your local auto mechanic, delivery services, and Doctors.
    A few of the above mentioned you would have to say, is really a good thing. Why would I want to go to a doctor for a checkup and be tested for a genetic disorder that only Asian race people would have? And I am not Asian.
    Enough about basic Profiling. It is done all the time on small and large scales. An educated individual Knows this and is not above it because it is useful in many decisions.
    Profiling gets labeled as evil, ridiculously when the buzz word of race is added to the formula. I say it is ridiculous because it is only one keystroke away in a database and a nanosecond away in a human mind, so this is only a natural event, not anything bigger than that.
    I believe, what we do with that information, is where the trouble begins.
    Is it a police sergeant’s fault that he has been informed by his precinct, that 80 percent of the break-ins in his neighborhood are perpetrated by black race people?
    The fact remains that anyone found in the unfortunate situation of being behind a broken door of a home, recently called in as a possible burglary, will have to show total cooperation until the situation can be verified without any doubt.
    The window of total cooperation was diminished quickly by a flare of temper of the homeowner. The minimum at that point would be a quiet ride to the PD to ask a few questions and verify identity. With a challenge at hand, you get cuffed and booked; this is what happens to anyone. Not just our Dr./ professor.
    As educated and powerful as the Dr is, he just was not aware of his situation. If the police officer let it slide his career would be on the line. Showing favoritism is as bad as going the other way. The policeman has to be committed to the law when people’s safety is involved. Or we will just make up laws as we go, and we know that doesn’t work.
    How do you think this would have played out if the policeman was invited in, given a polite hello and a cold drink while all the information was called in?

    The actions of this police officer in this situation should not be questioned.
    The law should protect everyone, and in this case if the police officer had a good or bad track record he should be safe. Unless we possibly – Profile him into a bad position. For the sake of a good story.

    What about the more vulnerable other side of the story. The Dr. has not been bound by anything thing but the rule of society. By the way those rules do not mix well with the rule of law. That would take a novel to get the smallest point across so I won’t go there. But trust me it just doesn’t mix well.

    The only question I ask myself is what in the world would make the Dr. choose a posture of being Un-cooperative with the police.

    Some history.

    The Dr. Acquired a PHD in England at Cambridge, and then went to Yale University, Cornell, Duke, and then Harvard.
    The Resume advertised was 30 pages long.
    As a person who is not as well written as the Dr. I have been told I need to have a one page resume, maybe two, or my perspective employer may think I can’t keep a job.
    Lightheartedly said to emphasize the point, the Dr has position and power. He has been teaching African history and has studied all there is to know about the hard and soft authors on Black history. The information and interviews I saw on TV with the Dr. show a contrast of a well spoken calm mannered man. And there are taped interviews of a flipside of a forceful street slang sassy guy. A duality that has been criticized and praised.
    The duality has been explained in an interview partly, by the fact that his mother was the star of his life. And there are a few quotes from her that are without doubt anti White. The Dr has had the exceptional privilege to teach not only historical and informational history, but also the controversial violent black writers he mentioned in an interview.
    A smart man faced with a challenge would use what is a handicap to be an advantage if he could do so. It could only be the handicap that the Dr has mentioned so many times. And that is that he has been persecuted because he is black. This may be so. He has been taught that is the case and I would have to believe he emulates that all the time. It is his course of life and study.

    What color is the stain?
    Have you ever had a stain on a very nice shirt? Does it really matter the color of that stain? Let me answer, No
    I will make a stain but I really don’t want to put a color on it. It could be construed that the police officer only did do his job, the one we pay him to do. The person who was uncooperative was treated as, an un-cooperative person. DONE
    The police officers record is not even a question now. He could be an ex-terrorist and he has the power and protection of the law with him.
    The Dr is now at the mercy and the civility of his peers. I and that makes everyone his peer. Including me. A fine upstanding GED holder.

    Maybe we are overlooking a fact that this arrest may be a stain the Dr was trying to make from the very start of his outrage. This may be his way of cleaning his house of all the conflict he has studied and experienced all his life.
    I personally feel it is poor judgment to bring the entire nation into this group therapy, especially with an African American newly holding the most powerful position in the world. I will bet some hard lines will be peppered at the good Dr about his need for a spotlight at such a huge juncture for President Obama.
    And as the Brazilian owned Bud Light is cooling the hand of our president, It may keep him from backhanding the Sergeant for saying to the press “The president should bud out of his arrest” That is like the little mouse flipping off the Eagle just before he is crushed by his claws. Sorry to the mouse lovers for the graphic analogy.
    Joe the Mechanic

  • Sorry, Jazz. I’m on edge, literally 1 more episode of police misconduct away from a dashiki and afro pick. Joe, your comment is longer than the post!

  • C’mon Whitmore! Not Blacky McBlack. But Negro Del Negro. Gates IS a educated and cultured man. Let’s use some fancy talk!

  • archangel

    man T-Steels, I was thinking Prof Gates for a minute there sounded more like he was channeling old Sweetback, you know Bad A…

  • DanDierdorf

    Intentionally or not this whole thread is hilarious.

    Thanks Jazz

  • psmith123456

    During the 1990s when racism arose in the NHL, the General Manager of the New York Rangers, Glen Sather, said, “I wish they’d go back to calling each other f****** a*******.”

    If the cop in question didn’t intend to offend anyone, he would have called Gates a moron. That’s not to say that I think Gates is stupid, but sticking to questioning people’s intelligence isn’t going to lead to lawsuits or accusations of racism.

    If one really feels the need to insulting others’ ancestry, stick to discussing whether the person’s parents were married, not which mammal the person descended from.

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