The Henry Louis Gates incident is a situation crying out for an empathetic response. You have to ask yourself, if you are not a person of color, how would it feel to be automatically regarded suspiciously by the police, even in your own home? How would it feel to know that you can be stopped by the police while driving, or followed by a clerk in a store, at any time, simply because you have dark skin? I imagine it would feel awful to have that possibility hanging in the background of your everyday life, and you just don’t know when those racist suspicions might suddenly emerge to threaten you. Until what happened to Henry Louis Gates isn’t possible anymore in the U.S., we have not made the racial progress we think we have.
Although the words that were spoken by the participants at President Obama’s “beer summit” were not made public, I truly hope that Police Sgt. James Crowley came away from that with increased empathy for what it feels like to be a law-abiding person of color on the receiving end of a law officer’s suspicions. Once again, President Obama has shown how important empathy is in creating a more peaceful and reasonable world.