Seeing Black and Seeing Red

The prism of race made Henry Louis Gates Jr. appear to be just another suspect.

Posted:
 
haygoodj2
OhioHistoryCentral.org

I loved living in Cambridge, Mass., except when I didn't. And when I didn't was when I had left my apartment late at night to walk to the all-night corner grocery store with just that $10 bill stuffed into my pocket, having left my wallet on the bookcase in the hallway. Then, strolling along, soon as I spotted a police car, I'd tighten: Dammit, I'm gonna get stopped. Maybe some black guy broke into a home two blocks over. Maybe he was over 6 feet and slim like myself. Maybe there was no black guy two blocks over. I could, in that flash, without any ID, picture myself sitting in the police car, handcuffed. And then when the car would pass, when I'd finally exhale, I dared not look back over my shoulder, lest the officer think I was checking him out checking me out through his rearview mirror, which would have been a telltale sign of some kind of wrongdoing in motion.

Charles Ogletree gives Gates' side of the story.

Karen Grigsby Bates on when apologies aren't enough.