My ascent into the middle class began in earnest after I landed two coveted full-ride scholarships. The first was to Mills College in Oakland which is often called the Vassar of the West. And the second was to USC after I promised to write for their award winning newspaper.
Both schools cater to the wealthy and without exception the professors at both places condescended to this ' bright' kid with the 'awful' background. What I learned in all those years of being the white working class 'help' was college professors are for the most part silly asses, my Dad was smarter than all of them and they do not like to be challenged.
Enter Skippy Gates! Can you say entitled? Who is this honky asking for my ID when I am jet lagged. Gotta be racial profiling. I am calling the Chief of Police, right now, y'hear me white boy?
To the best of my understanding, Gates never did show his driver's license, only his Harvard ID, and this only after much protestation; he never stopped haranguing Crowley for his race ; he never stopped to consider what it might have looked like to a passerby as he and his cab driver tried to force open his "stuck" front door; and he never for a second considered it was a good thing the police had been called to investigate a possible break-in at his home.
In view of Gate's behavior, it would not be far fetched to see him calling the Cambridge police racists, if his home were broken into, and they failed to investiage. Goddamn honkies. Good for nothing. Or alternatively They knew this was the home of a black man, its racial profiling I tell you.
My working class view is not popular here at Salon or anyplace else on the web. That is because it is the view of a white working class person who understands class bias and prejudice and we be small in number in bloggersville.
This reality of being out of step with my peers on certain issues is of old standing and painful. I blogged for Hillary in the primary contest and I was called a racist every time I wrote something unflattering about Barack Obama.
Every time I have stood up for my 'kind ' it is the same deal.
What I do not understand about this bias against the white working class, particularly when race is involved, is this: are black individuals the only ones allowed to be post racial? Is Barack Obama the only person in America who is credited with not seeing race first, although in this instance he did, but that's okay because he was defending his friend.
Sgt. Crowley, because he is a white man, cannot be post racial?
Sure, there was a wee bit of backtracking in media reports when investigations into the honky's background showed a man committed to racial equality, who had tried to save the life of NBA star Reggie Lewis and years later was still haunted by the fact he failed -- and who had been asked by a Black Chief of police to give a class on racial profiling. But no one has been able to say unequivocally, without hedging their bets, that Gates was an Ass. Although Colin Powell came close.
Powell on Larry King Live mirrored my own understanding about the police -- which is that talking back to a cop is stupid. So all those who have blogged about how we still have the first amendment and so mouthing off to a cop is not a punishable offense live on some planet other than one I, and apparently Colin Powell, inhabit. But we still need to faced the larger isue at play here.
If we want to be a post racial society, we have to strive to be one; and this means we look at facts not skin color, we do not assume that old patterns are re-emerging and we acknowledge that class prejudice is as profound a distorter of reality as any other ism-- regardless of skin color.
We also need to acknowledge the influence of class across racial lines.There are black upper class folks--Skp Gates being one, and there are also black working class folks, Michele Obama's parents among them.
America is much more fluid and profoundly less biased than we acknowledge. Working class people in Ohio and West Virginia, Pennsylvania too, did not vote for Hillary because of her skin color. They voted for her because she spoke to their issues. Obama did not get them -- not the other way around. It was class. And no matter how he tried Obama came across as an elitist. White working class people did not trust Obama on class issues. They didn't care a fig about his race.
In the early days of the Gates v Crowley story, there was one image that haunted me. It was the bewildered, anguished and puzzled face of Sergeant James Crowley who clearly could not grasp the idea that he was being labeled a racist. His face haunted me because this was the way my very own face looked during the primary campaign.
But I am heartened by the beer diplomacy. And let's be honest. In the face of each of these three men we will all be there in the White House having a beer together taking one more step into a post racial world where knee-jerks are not the standard and seeing beyond race is the norm. And if at first you don't succeed; try, try again.