Gates Is Right--and We're Not Post-racial Until He’s Wrong

by | July 22, 2009

Elsewhere on the site, John McWhorter discusses Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates's arrest last week. McWhorter notes that he, too, has been racially profiled, and he urges conservatives and others skeptical of "identity poiltics" to take the issue seriously. Here's another interesting thought that he develops:

The relationship between black men and police forces is, in fact, the main thing keeping America from becoming "post-racial" in any sense.

Here is where many will object with statistics about residential segregation, disparities in car loans and health care, and most recently, the dumping of subprime mortgages in black communities.

These, however, are more news stories than things felt on a visceral level among ordinary people as evidence that racism is still virulent in this country, a defining experience of being black. As Newsweek's Ellis Cose put it in his widely read The Rage of a Privileged Class, "in the real world such statistics are almost irrelevant, for rage does not flow from dry numerical analyses of discrimination or from professional prospects projected on a statistician's screen."

What creates the true rub is unpleasant live social encounters, and none have such potent effect as ones with the cops.

The whole thing, as they say, is worth reading.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/gates-right-and-were-not-post-racial-until-hersquos-wrong