Older minorities who have spent their lives defining themselves by the discrimination they have faced can sometimes have a hard time acknowledging that the world has changed, even as they enjoy those changes. Being discriminated against is one way they see their relationship to the world, and they’re unclear how to navigate if they concede its absence. That is what makes Obama’s election so unsettling to some blacks. Even as they rejoice in his victory, it requires them to recalibrate their view of the world and their place within it.
Professor Gates should not have been led away in handcuffs. But at the end of the day, he still earns more money, has more privileges, access, influence and, ultimately, much more power than the man who arrested him. How many of you can depend on the president of the United States coming to your defense when you have a run-in with the law?
Gates may be a momentary victim, but here’s a flash: By most measures, he’s actually one of the victors. Times have changed. It’s a good thing.