August 15, 2009

A Learning Moment

“Do you want to know what the President did today?” I asked my ten year old son. He wasn’t paying attention as he was playing Nintendo. With my laptop on, I scrolled through news websites with the TV on in the background.

He came over to see what I was talking about. There was a picture on the Drudge Report of President Obama, Vice President Biden, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Sgt. James Crowley. This was the scene which the President hoped for, a “teaching moment.”

My son asked me what I was talking about and I showed him the photo. I then explained about the arrest of Professor Gates and the misunderstanding about race, and why it became important for President Obama to preside over this meeting. My son sensed that this was a significant story. He nodded his head and listened as I spoke. “He’s doing a good thing, he’s a nice president” he said. He paused over the laptop a moment longer and I patted him on the back.

As a former New York City police officer, I can closely relate to Sgt. Crowley and his handling of the burglary investigation. I’ve never been accused of racial profiling in my career; yet, I can detail incidents where bystanders expressed antipathy towards the white officers present at the scene. Upon reading the report of the incident at Professors Gates’ home, my reaction was to side with Sgt. Crowley.