Back Before He Got Busted: Talkin’ ‘Bout Race with Henry “Skip” Gates.

African American Lives

Dr. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, above, holds a unique, negative distinction in the history of NONFICTION, the hour-long radio show I’ve been doing every week at WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM since 2003: He was, when he appeared on the broadcast in January 2004, and still is, the tardiest guest to ever actually get on air, strolling in literally about five minutes before I opened my mic. (I typically ask guests to be an hour early for our live show.)

amd_prof_gatesOf course, these days, Dr. Gates has notoriety of a wholly different magnitude, as a result of being arrested, a little over a week ago, Thursday, July 16, 12:44 pm, by Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge MA police department, inside Dr. Gates own home. (By the Blackest of coincidences, it was the same day President Obama would address the NAACP, in celebration of their 100th anniversary.) After a passerby saw Gates trying to break into his own yellow, clapboard house—the front door was damaged and stuck—the woman called the police and, after a verbal confrontation in Gates’ home, he was led out of his own door, above, and off of his own porch, in handcuffs.

Supposed the conflict had escalated, and Gates had been beaten, wounded, shot, or killed? How would this have then played out? Would it have been just another parade of somber white faces and furious, stunned Black ones? How would the story of what had happened have been told, and by whom?

I wonder how that Black cop, in the foreground, above, feels. Bet it’s not a party for him, either.

Did you know that Black cops are nine times more likely to be shot by a fellow white officer than a white cop is?

When Gates and I met to talk about his then latest book and documentary, America Behind The Color Line: Dialogues with African-Americans, those questions were certainly as far away from his mind as Cambridge is from China, that being the country from which he’d just returned that fateful day.

He was late to my interview. But better late than never.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates is the guest today on this repeat edition of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, July 24th, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear his ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.



There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment