Would you be so kind as to mention the following to Mr. Gates and President Obama during your meeting with them:
One of the major problems stemming from the events of July 16 is that I, now known as ‘the black Sergeant’, have had my image plastered all over the Internet, television and newspapers. Subsequently, I have also become known, at least to some, as an ‘Uncle Tom.’
I’m forced to ponder the notion that as a result of speaking the truth and coming to the defense of a friend and collegue, who just happens to be white, that I have somehow betrayed my heritage.
Excerpt of a letter that Cambridge Police Sgt. Leon Lashley wrote to Sgt. Crowley before the “Beer Summit”.
Like you, I am a Black man. Like you, I am a police officer.
When I saw the photo of you standing outside of Professor Gates’ home, with him in handcuffs, I had a sense of trepidation for you. Then when I saw you standing by Sgt. Crowley in the above photo during the news conference and heard you express your support for him, I knew you’d be crucified by the Black (especially blogging) community. Subsequently, I read and also heard you being described as a “house negro”, an “uncle tom”, a “sell-out” and a “traitor” to your heritage, by practically every commentator.
I have also been called these names by members of our community because of the profession I am in. However, for me it didn’t start the first day I donned my uniform. It actually started when I was a child because I spoke differently from most of my peers. My parents insisted that my siblings and I speak “proper English”, focusing on good grammar and not resorting to the “street slang” of the day. So some of my peers would tease me, claiming that I was talking like I was “white”. For others, it was a reason to give me an ass-whooping! Then in high school, because I wouldn’t skip classes to go hang out and studied hard to get good grades, I would be told I was “acting white” and called an “oreo” and “uncle tom” on a number of occasions.
We have come to realize that being both a Black man and a police officer, puts us in an advantageous, as well as an unenviable position at the same time. In fact, it a blessing and a curse! Since we are members of these two distinct groups, we see how both groups are viewed with suspicion and perceived as “dangerous”… not only by each other… but also by the society at large. We experience first hand, on a daily basis, the tension between both groups based on a real (and continuing) history of conflict and misunderstandings. We struggle it seems with very little success, to defend the actions, perceptions and motives of each group to the other, in an effort to lessen this tension and promote some understanding… if not empathy.
Like you, I love my heritage. Like you, I love my job. Like you, I know that there are some Black folks who will judge me for the uniform I wear and not for the person I am. Like you, I know that there are some police officers who will judge me by the colour of my skin and not by the content of my character. Like you, I understand that as a Black man, supporting the actions of a corrupt colleague, especially a “white” cop, does not endear us to them. In fact it gives them permission to victimize us within the workplace as well. Like you, I understand that as a police officer, defending the bad and/or criminal behaviour of those in the Black community, causes us to lose the respect of the community. We become a living confirmation of their belief that cops are dishonest and don’t care about the welfare and safety of the Black community.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will always hurt me…”
Regardless of how we may appear in public, it does hurts us when those in the Black community demonize us… more so than whatever our police colleagues may say about us. However, I believe that God has placed us in a unique position and has ordained us to a higher calling. Therefore we must rise above the rhetoric, sound bites and critics from within both groups, keep our hearts and minds pure and clear, so as to never lose sight on the truth of each situation, and take a stand on that truth… regardless of colour or profession. That may entail standing with a “white” colleague against false allegations of racism from the Black community. That may require standing with the family of a young Black man and declare that he was indeed murdered by an overzealous “white” cop.
Finally I offer this piece of insight to you, which has helped me overcome the ignorance I am sometimes subjected to. Whenever I am called names by anyone because of a position I have taken, I remember the words of my Grandmother: “Son, an empty drum makes the most noise”. I am then reminded and take strength in the fact that there is a silent majority, within both groups, who do respect me for what I do… and more importantly… for the person I am.
You have my support as a fellow officer.
You have my love as a Black man.
Désiré-Joseph Katihabwa said:
For few presents, an African sold his Brother into slavery, for control and share of resources, a President diverted funds in a Foreign Account (Money that could build Health centres, pay school Fees for a Poor African Villager), in the name of Freedom, a Man took up arms paid mainly by Foreign Corporations/Countries to kill,etc.
History shows that one can always betray another Fellow Citizen of his own Color,Religion.
This one person of color who speaks standard English, has a college degree, which most of may family has, knows how to dress appropriately and have manners; knows a house Negro when I see one.
@Hathor: I guess it’s true what they say then: “mirrors don’t lie.”
I have no idea what you mean.
Hathor, I think what Asabagna is saying is that if you look in a mirror you will find a House Negro close at hand…but I could be wrong.
As for the issue this subject raises, it is clear that black people/African Americans or whatever we are calling ourselves this week, have integrity issues. Too many of us stand for blind loyalty based on skin alone – and little else.
For example, the “Blackchurian Candidate” aka Mista President, can trade on his skin to get elected by overwhelming numbers of so-called black people, whilst blowing Wall Street like a $2 crack ho’.
Meanwhile, he eschews you, turning his back on your fist-raising ass, because “there is no black America, no white America, there is only the United States OF America.” He forgot to mention that there is a green America that he slaves for.
And everybody in the congregation hollas “AMEN” while they put their coin in the collection plate that he done promised to “others.”
But, because some obscure, clearly conscious lawman-brother doesn’t follow the “don’t snitch” policy that’s afflicted millions of our ignorant people, he’s a Tom. Well, if that’s a Tom I’d rather that than a brainwashed, unthinking hunk of kente cloth.
I thought I was challenging asabanga assumption that ones class, does not mean they can not determine who is a house Negro.
I didn’t really speak to the issue of Officer Lashley. If I had I would have stated why he would let another officer arrest Gates in the first place since it had been established that it was Gate’s residence and indeed it was he. If he was the stand up Negro he should have tried to diffuse the situation. I have personally seen white cops back down in personality conflicts when confronted with reason. I didn’t see the need for the letter, if you know who you are there is no need to defend yourself. The bloggosphere is often full of bullshit, it can be hurtful, but it is not court of law.
For a moment I had thought that asabanga was referring to his letter which mirrored Lashley’s, but that didn’t make sense either.
Ya’ll need to read my blog and then I think you can criticize my position on Barrack Obama or really tell if I’m a house Negro or just a Negro who has a blog.
The problem with the black “officer” has to do with black people’s allegiance to one another. Does your allegiance to your badge and shield override your allegiance to your race,your community, the very justice for which the badge stands ? It totally undermined Gates’ racial profiling charge when the black “officer”was seen there standing and supporting “officer” Crowley.
With many minorities, it is a given that they are on the side of of their religion and culture first and foremost. There is a certain strength is solidarity. Especially when you’re actually standing for something just.
I give everyone the benefit of the doubt at the onset of any situation, but based on the facts, this officer deserved the “uncle tom” label he received. Sorry officer Leon, you’re far from the hero you think you are… Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame while they last because I’m sure that’s all you were after anyway.
If you want to see “demonizing” of fellow blacks, you should not just visit, but read what is posted and said on black conservative websites; it’s so hard to see reality when you’re blinded by ideology.