Monday, July 27, 2009

Henry Gates' Neighbor: White Women Less than Black Men

On FOX News this morning, Wendy Murphy, the attorney for Professor Gates' neighbor or passerby...who called the police...said Gates asked police, presumably from his front porch: "you would believe a white woman over a black man?" Update in red text. The caller, Lucia Whalen 40, is of Portugese descent. According to Murphy she has dark olive skin. Well, it is certainly no surprise that Gates would view any woman of any color as a lesser person than himself. This surely includes his ex-wife, Sharon Adams, a white woman, of Somerville and his current wife, The Founding Fathers failed all women of all color - regardless the appeals of Abigail Adams to her husband, and second U.S. President John Adams, to "remember the women," they simply didn't. Woman got the right to vote in most states in 1920, fifty years after black men. Frankly, it enrages me. A little more about white women, in this case, Sharon Adams with whom Gates had three children. In 1990, the New York Times freelancers were invited to tour the Gates' 9000 sq. ft. home in Durham, N.C. Here's a look into the charmed life of Henry Louis (Skip) Gates:

He is disarmingly open about enjoying his success. He likes to show a visitor around his neo-Colonial house in Durham. His wife, Sharon, an accomplished ceramicist, is just running out to the studio; she has a show in less than two weeks. His father, a slim older man busy at the kitchen sink, waves cheerfully. Gates stops in each room to tell a different story. An old hip injury, to which he attaches a long tale about a racist doctor, slows his progress; he walks with a cane and a marked limp. In his oversized, wood-paneled study, he talks about his friendship with Wole Soyinka. Upstairs, he reminisces about meeting his wife: they were both working on Jay Rockefeller's 1972 gubernatorial campaign in West Virginia. His two daughters, aged 8 and 10, want their rooms included in the tour. The house is huge (9,000 square feet) and grand, still sparsely furnished - except for the daughters' rooms, which are decked out with bright frills and posters of teen-age idols. At the top of a sweeping staircase, Gates pauses in front of a cluster of photographs to trace his ancestry back to a sepia-tint portrait of Jane Gates, midwife and former slave. Their son, Skip, received an excellent primary and secondary education in the local public schools (''there was no discrimination in the classroom''), and then spent a year in a local junior college. In the late 1960's, he started dating a young white woman; helped force the closing of the Blue Jay restaurant in nearby Keyser, which held segregated Saturday night dances; became, as he puts it, ''the voice of civil rights in Piedmont,'' and was rewarded with the No. 1 spot on a list of potential troublemakers in Mineral County. ''I was called 'nigger' so often I thought I had a sign stenciled on my back.'' Gates laughs and covers his eyes when he tells this story. ''I decided to get the hell out of there and applied to Yale.''
Gates graduated summa cum laude in history in 1973. Then:
In 1982, a year after being dubbed a genius by the MacArthur Foundation, Gates was again in the news (and his picture graced the pages of People magazine), when he announced he had rediscovered the first novel published by a black person in the United States. This coup established his talent for a special kind of literary archeology and, in his mind, justified the MacArthur grant. ''Our Nig,'' written in 1859 by a free black woman named Harriet E. Wilson, was ignored when it was first published, Gates conjectured, because it depicted not the horrors of slavery in the South but the racism of white Northerners. In later years, it was thought to have been written by a white man posing as a black woman.... In 1985, a year and half after Random House published the new edition of ''Our Nig,'' Gates accepted an appointment as a full professor in the Cornell English department. On top of the promotion, Cornell provided resources (space and staff as well as cash) for his already numerous projects.....
Gates was passionate about his endeavor to show that African-America literature "merits a canonical anthology." Evidently, Gates had to include some writing by African-American's on the Right in order to get his collection together. Without a collection of writings, it is too expensive for a study to gather the materials, said Professor Gates:
Gates finds himself in the somewhat paradoxical position of forming one canon while attacking another. Some critics distrust the idea of reproducing (and thereby reinforcing) what they consider a repressive system of cultural authority. Others resist the idea that African-American literature merits a canonical anthology in the first place.
To his colleagues on the left he says, ''You have to have a canon so the next generation can come along and explode it.'' [Professor Isaac Kramnick] defending Gates's talent for self-promotion, punctuating his argument by rapping his fist on his desk. ''To criticize Skip,'' he says, ''is to single him out as someone who exemplifies very profound changes in the faculty.'' Although many of Gates's projects excite controversy, nothing provokes so much pointed criticism as his evident glee at being a highflier. Well-publicized job offers from Columbia and Stanford University and the prolonged negotiations with Duke have made him a symbol for a new trend in self-marketing among an elite corps of superstar scholars.
Indeed, an "elite superstar scholar." The very first words out of Gates' mouth the night of the arrest were belligerent. There was no civil interchange from Gates from the minute Crowley arrived:
When police arrived, Sgt. Crowley walked onto the front porch and saw Gates standing inside. "I asked if he would step out onto the porch and speak with me. He replied "no I will not."
Crowley says I am "Sgt. Crowley from the Cambridge Police" and I am "investigating a report of a break in progress" at the residence. Gates opens the door and says "why, because I'm a black man in America?"
Gates makes a phone call and asks to speak to "the chief." Crowley said "Gates was telling the person on the other end of the call that he was dealing with a racist police officer in his home." This is the point where Gates told Sgt. Crowley "you don't know who you are messing with," and "you haven't heard the last of this." This same threat was made numerous times, including outside the home. To the claims that Crowley did not provide his identification, the police report says that Crowley provided identification three times, including once before entering the house. Crowley asked Gates to come outside because, Crowley said, the acoustics inside Gates' kitchen were poor and made it impossible to "to transmit pertinent information to ECC or other responding units. This is when the distinguished Mr. Gates said "ya, I'll speak with your mama outside." What we have here is an elitist who uses his race to promote himself. Maybe it is time for a demotion for Gates who looked at his neighbor through racist eyes, and saw nothing but a valueless white woman. Update 7-28-09: I now have confirming video of Murphy's statement that Gates "challenged" the police by asking why they would believe "a white woman over a black man." View the video here. Background: Henry Louis Gates: Inkwell, AfricanDNA: Gates in Martha's Vineyard, Gates on Newt Gingrich Barack Obama Unpaid Cambridge Tickets: Sgt. Crowley Update, Crowley News Conference

©2007-2012copyrightMaggie M. Thornton