Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Forgotten Moments in History: The Beer Summit

On July 30th, 2009, President Obama brought two men together and thereby singlehandedly solved the issue of racism and bigotry in the United States. Twenty-five months later, the meeting known by the delightful moniker as the "Beer Summit" is in the forefront of our minds. Much like September 11th, this pivotal moment in American history has not been forgotten. Thank you, Professor Gates and jerky cop Crowley... We are in your debt. You have already forgotten Professor Henry Louis Gates and James Crowley? For shame.

On the sixteenth of July 2009, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested when he and his driver attempted to enter his Cambridge, Massachusetts home after the front door would not open to the house. On first glance, the situation kind of seems cut and dry... Some "concerned" citizen sees a Black man attempting to enter a residence and wrongly assumes that this gentleman is a criminal. Then the officer shows up and exacerbates the situation. At least, that would be what people would assume on first glance.

Honestly, I am not seeking to belittle the "Beer Summit," I think that President Obama did have the right idea to put the issue of race relations out there for public debate. People forget that such behaviors still exist in this country and making them public is the only way to have our society move forward. Sadly, our collective attention span is frightfully short and people lost interest before hearing who was to blame in this situation. Apparently, both were found to blame for the situation going out of control. Case closed on that front... I suppose.

Much like anything else that happens in this illustrious nation of ours where all men and women are created equal, time passed and everyone simply forgot. The "Beer Summit" was doomed from the start (The name given to it by the media took away its credibility) and an opportunity was missed to place a spotlight on an issue that continues to go unresolved. The events stemming from the Gates arrest are a microcosm for race in America. It is a situation where both sides could have handled it better. Perhaps, if cops had a better demeanor when addressing anyone (regardless of race) than maybe people would not become standoffish and situations would not spiral out of control. What do I know though?

The "Beer Summit" began with an admirable mission of highlighting that racial situations can and should be solved with both parties discussing the issue together and creating solutions from a mutual ground. Arguably, President Obama accomplished this in the Gates/ Crowley situation but sadly, the rest of country grew tired, changed the channel and then simply forgot.

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