Would my father and Sgt. Crowley be reduced to who they were on that fateful day in my father’s house on Ware Street and give us all a glimpse of what really happened? Or could it be that this small collection of men were actually devising some master plan to rid the world of all racist tendencies right there in the Presidential Rose Garden over a few brewskis? No. That would have been impossible to achieve—even on Obama’s best day and even if my father had actually finished his Sam Adams.
Discrimination is the single greatest wound in American history and could never be solved over a beer. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. There are more black men in prison than in college and literally thousands of black men are arrested across this country each day. And while I might agree with the President’s initial statement that the “Cambridge Police Department acted stupidly,” my father is not the first nor will he be the last black man to be arrested for no reason—in his own home or elsewhere—and Sgt. Crowley isn’t the first officer to fudge a police report. They are simply pawns in the rebirth of unfashionable intolerance in a world that likes to think our dashing brown-skinned 44th President has emerged to make nice with the past, present, and future. It’s an impossible task for the President and speaks more to our nation’s vulnerable value system than the unfortunately common situation my father and the Cambridge police found themselves embroiled in. As my father said on the plane yesterday morning on our way to the White House, “there are approximately 800,000 black men in prison and on July 16, 2009, I simply became one of them.”