My Turn, Your Turn: Battle of the professor and the sergeant

By Gary McNair - bio|email

This may sound crazy, but I actually thought that when Barack Obama was elected president that maybe, just maybe, we were moving beyond racism as a contentious issue in America.

I thought we reached that moment where "content of character" meant more than "the color of skin."  That all went out the window last week.  It looks like we still have a long way to go.

Everyone - including our President - has been talking about the conflict between a black professor and a white police officer in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I'd be fine if it was just talking, but once again it seems like we are shouting at each other.  Listen to talk radio or flip through the cable channels and you will hear what I'm talking about.  It seems to me their opinions are not based so much on fact - but once again, on the color of skin.

I don't know what happened between Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley. Their stories are very different and the truth is probably somewhere in between.

The one thing I do know is whatever happened should be taken as a sign that we still have a long way to go, and perhaps we'll get there sooner if we stop yelling at each other and start having more civil discussions.

That's my turn.  Now it's your turn.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at

Emailed viewers' responses:

I have listened to a lot of this back and forth between blacks and whites for the past week.  What I want to know is, if the rolls were reversed and it was a white Harvard professor in the house and a black police officer, would the President of the United States have committed on the subject and say that the police officer "acted stupidly" or would he have just been doing his job.  Is this going to be a teaching moment on how to not be racist or to just do what is asked no matter what your race is!!

I am white and I am tired of being thought of as racist because I am white.


I get tired of people using race as an issue when they have conflicts.  How about doing the right thing and have respect for an officer who was out to protect his home.  If the professor agreed to give him proof of his residency and submitted to authority, he would not have had the conflict in the first place.

It is really sad that people who are supposed to be educated like this professor still acts like he left that education elsewhere because of his color - respect goes both ways!


How much is this beer "lovefest" costing us taxpayers?  This is ridiculous Gates and Crowley should have told Obama thanks but no thanks.  Think of the travel, security provisions, etc that are going into this public relations face saving effort.  Ridiculous!


I listened, with interest, to your commentary this afternoon.  Yes, we should be kinder to each other.  And, no, we don't know what went on between the police and the professor.  However, as a previous supporter to President Obama, I think he has more to do than to invite a friend and a policeman over to the White House for a beer.  We have two wars, the worst economy we have had in 25 years, a government which is taking over banks and private business and our freedoms are being taken away.  He has bigger things to take up his time ... he is the leader of our nation.  I wonder how the police departments around our nation feel about our president now.
President Obama, who is our leader and one we hope gets all the facts right before he speaks, said "the Cambridge Police acted 'stupedly'".  WOW, our leader speaks and reacts before he gets the complete story and against a police force.....and he is our leader.  We are in deep trouble.

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