Sunday, July 26, 2009

We hold these truths to be self evident..............

A great military man once asked the essential question..."how do I feel about my country and how does my country feel about me?!?" For me, those words hit home. Not because I've served in the military.....I haven't. But because I've always considered myself patriotic and over the years many of the people that I know have questioned me as to why I feel the way I do about MY country.
To be honest, there are more than a few things about MY country and Barack Obama that concern me. But I've never questioned the fact that he's a true politician. To me, he's a lot like Hillary Clinton and many other politicians; he rarely says anything "off the cuff" and he always seems to be in control. So like many people, I was surprised to hear him speak off the cuff earlier this week and so passionately about the events surrounding the arrest of Henry Louis Gates.
I'd like to say that I'm surprised that a man could be arrested after mistakenly being accused of breaking into his own house; but I've lived in this country long enough to know the lay of the land.
I remember the first time that I was stopped by the police for DWB. I was living in Montgomery Alabama, a student at Alabama State University, and I remember asking the police officer why he stopped me; and he told me, he did because he could. He offered no other explanation and he threw my driver's license and registration back at me and told me to stay out of the neighborhood that I was driving through.
The next time I was stopped, I was actually walking down the street with my then three year old son........WWB. At that time we lived in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans; and at that time, David Duke was my state representative. If you're not familiar with that name, Google it and see what you get. It was a beautiful day so I decided to walk from my gated apartment community to a grocery store, that was about a half a mile away. I've always liked to walk and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. There were many people outside taking advantage of the beautiful weather, I could see at least 15 or 20 people in eyesight (they didn't exactly look like my son and I though). Anyway, while I was walking down the street talking to my three year old, a police car pulled up and the officer got out and asked me for my identification. I must admit, I was taken aback and I laughed at him and told him that I didn't need identification to walk down the street; I didn't honestly think he was serious initially......and then it dawned on me just why he stopped me. I mean, I was just walking down the street. It would have been comical if it wasn't so goddamned pathetic. If my son wasn't with me, I would have cursed that cop out. But instead, I simply told him that he was bordering on ridiculous and that in this country a man didn't need identification to walk down a public street. His face turned three shades of red and I simply walked away from him, as if he didn't even speak to me. He followed me down the street in his patrol car, all the way to the grocery store. I made a few purchases and when I walked out, he was still there waiting. He followed me all the way back to the gates of my apartment complex. As soon as I walked through the card access door that residents used to enter if they were on foot..........I flipped him off.
The next time that I was stopped I lived in New Jersey. I worked in Morristown and I lived in Plainfield. My commute to work was approximately 30-35 miles if I took the interstate; or I could cut through "The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge", a national park, and that shaved my commute down to approximately 13 or 14 miles. So as you can imagine, many people simply cut through the public access portion of the swamp. On one edge of the swamp is a suburban community, filled with huge houses and more than a few mansions. I was always careful to drive the speed limit while going through this area; because there were usually a slew of squad cars all around here. You'd think that there was a Dunkin Donuts or a Krispy Kreme somewhere close given the large number of cops that were always out and about. Anyway, one day I was on my way home.....doing the speed limit, when a cop pulled up behind me and put his lights on me to pull over. I stopped and rolled down my window and asked him why he stopped me when he walked up to the car. He just smiled and said, "nice day huh.........I need your license and registration". So I asked him again and he gave me some bullshit about serving and protecting the community and he told me if I didn't show him my identification that he would arrest me. After I showed him my license, registration and proof of insurance I asked him again why he stopped me and he gave me my documents back and asked me why I was riding through this particular neighborhood. I laughed and told him it was a free country and a public street and that I could drive where I pleased, particularly since my tax dollars paid for the street and his salary as well. He told me that I was out of place in this particular neighborhood and that I should be careful not to drive through it again, if I knew what was good for me.
Since when is it a crime for a citizen of this country to drive or walk down a public street that my tax dollars pay for?!?
I can't say that I know all of the particulars of the Henry Louis Gates police encounter; but regardless, I understand his feelings and just why Barack Obama felt compelled to comment on it. The only thing that I regret is that our president felt equally compelled to apologize for expressing his disgust and frustration over this sorry episode.


  1. Oh please Reggie! Stop telling lies to your readers. You know stuff like what you wrote only happens in Spike Lee movies.

  2. Well then I must look like my name is Mookie or Radio Raheim, RiPPa!!! When this type of shit happens, its never funny!!! Those of us that have had to endure this type of treatment understand the frustration of others that have had to suffer the same indignation.

    We may hold these truths to be self evident, but apparently all of us weren't created equal in the eyes of the police.

  3. believe it or not this shit happens right here in Trinidad ... not so much the being pulled over as much as the funny looks from people in 'certain' neighbourhoods, as well as the 'security' officers of some of these neighbourhoods. and let it not be that you're a black man or woman who is able to afford living in some of these communities. it is assumed that you MUST be on the wrong side of the law. I too cannot say that I know all that is involved, but I do understand the ire and regret the apology as well...

  4. Trinitee that type of shit has been happening to me in Korean owned corner stores too......I just ignore that shit!!!

    It's frustrating; but at least when I'm walking around one of those Korean owned joints and they start shouting out the prices of items I pick up.....that's information I need. It really doesn't help me to get stopped on some tired ass street when I'm trying to make it home. That doesn't help me at all.

  5. I dont pretend to know what went on with the gates thing either... i dont pay much attention to political news... and im not american but... your blog made me think of the way he apologized and disassociated himself with his revrend (of twenty some odd years) after his speech at the NAACP thing, remember?

    *i said it then and i'll say it now (even though i got told that my opinion didnt mean sh*t)... that acts like that speak volumes about his character!*

    i almost want to say that it shows more concern for his public image than doing, or perhaps saying, the things that need to be done and said.

    politicians are like that... you may as well call them puppeticians... he said exactly what he felt initially... and then his image consultants told him to take it back... so he did.

  6. To be honest Sweet Mapley Jane, it's hard to understand some of the things that happen in this world unless you walk a mile in a man's (or woman's) shoes, but some things just defy logic.

    If he didn't distance himself away from Reverend Wright, he probably wouldn't have been elected president. Some of the things that the good reverend had to say, I didn't agree with......but many of the things he said I did agree with. It is what it is!!!

  7. been with a cop for the last eight years and the consenses is they are dicks cause they can be regardless of race . . . I have seen him bully people and power trip . . . could tell you things he and his partners do just for shits and giggles and they are black and white

  8. i like the fact that the anonymous person pointed out... "a LOT of them are dicks... simply because they CAN be!"

    my cousin is dating a cop... and he thinks he is the best thing since sliced bread! and makes sure that everyone knows it too! UGH!

  9. You know Anonymous, I realize that it's just not Caucasian cops that commit these offenses; and although I've never been hassled by a cop of color, I've got friends who say they have been.

    Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely..........

  10. That's okay Michelle, I like to think that I'm the best thing to come along since sliced bread too!!!

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