Here’s a very interesting contrast, the Professor Gates story and the Bob Dylan story. Both men were reported as suspicious looking. Both men were in neighborhoods where they were a minority. Both men were then confronted by police, but then things got markedly different from there.
The police, when first confronting Gates, asked for identification and Gates demanded to know why. When it was explained to Gates by the officer that he was investigating a report of a possible break in and that’s why he wanted to see some identification, Gates allegedly said, “why, because I’m a black man in America?” He later went on to allegedly say, “you have no idea who you’re messing with.”
When Dylan was confronted, he identified himself and explained what he was doing there. When asked for identification, he said he had none. When the officer asked him to get in the car to go verify who he is with the tour buses, he complied without incident. No, “why, because I’m a white man in a minority area?” No “you have no idea who you’re messing with.”
At the end of the Gates incident, we have the nation abuzz over the story and about race in this country, with even the President weighing in. After the Dylan incident, I’m willing to bet most of you didn’t even hear about it. Instead, it’s just some amusing story about how a young cop couldn’t recognize an older music legend. Oh, ain’t that cute? Now that’s largely because of how differently Dylan reacted of course, but let’s pretend for a moment that the neighborhood was the Hamptons and perhaps Miles Davis instead of Dylan, but Miles reacted just as gracefully as Dylan. I’m willing to bet that you would have heard the story then. Oh the news media would be playing up the racial thing, and the nation would be abuzz about race and racial profiling. See, have a white man look at a house for sale in a minority neighborhood, and when the police investigate this suspicious behavior, not a problem. If a black man was reported to the cops after walking up to look at a house for sale in whiteyland, oh that’s evil racial profiling.
So yeah, we have a long way to go with race relations in America but hell, I think a lot of it is due to people being reactionary asses, double standards, and weasels looking to exploit it for personal gain or to increase ratings.