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Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates outraged at arrest at his home

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Author Topic: Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates outraged at arrest at his home  (Read 5138 times)
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« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2009, 06:02:55 am »

                                                  Skip Gates, please sit down

                               You are suffering from what I call the "Ivy League Effect"

Editor's note:

This column originally appeared on the Web site "This Week in Blackness," which is maintained by Brooklyn, N.Y., comedian Elon James White. The person who submitted it to "This Week in Blackness" published it under the pseudonym "a Phantom Negro" because "Dr. Henry Louis Gates has reach and influence in the academy."

By a Phantom Negro
July 24, 2009

The Ivy League is not real life. College in general is not real life, and the Ivy League is a more fantastic version of college. The amenities are better, the rules are flexible, and everyone, student and faculty alike, is well aware that the realities of life as most people know it are merely a peculiar footnote to the day-to-day of campus life. I do not speak out of turn when I say this. I know because I am in and of that world.

As a black Ivy Leaguer, something funny happens as you become ensconced in ivy. You’re smart enough to understand that race and racism are a reality you deal with on a daily basis, but you also know that your university ID sets you apart. Does this mean you are kept from hurtful incidents? No, but it is to say that much of the outrage felt at a racial slight is replaced by outrage at a class slight. Sure, we get pissed, knowing we’re getting hassled because we’re black, but the real indignation comes from being hassled as members of an elite group. How dare you hassle me? I go to school here. I go to work here. That second part of the thought is always present. I go to school here. I go to work here. When the Ivy League Effect is going full tilt, our black compass gets confused; the realities we know to exist become other people's problems.

True story:

One night, years ago, many of the black students at school were throwing a party in a dormitory common area when three police officers arrived, flashlights searching the crowd. Nobody moved, nobody left, nobody did anything but keep dancing as three police officers walked through the crowd, flashlights in faces. I didn’t run either. In fact, I wondered if they were chasing someone on foot and wondered if the person they were chasing had run into the party.

That could only happen in the Ivy League. Three cops come into a party and nobody, surreptitiously or otherwise, made for an exit? It seems like the beginning of a joke. On one hand, you could argue that this is a sign of progress; a sign that we’ve moved past the days of fearing police presence. I say that that quasi-luxury is brought on by the muscle backing these students (and, by extension, the faculty) -- the school. All the lessons about dealing with police as a black person seem to have no place in the ivory tower. We can forget those lessons because, more than we’re black in America, we’re Ivy Leaguers.
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Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
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