Every White Man's Nightmare

George Joyce
“Every black man’s nightmare” is how Massachusetts’s governor Deval Patrick recently described the controversy surrounding the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  While speaking to a throng of reporters in a hallway at the State House Patrick added that the treatment of Gates was “a reality for many black men” in America.

Let’s see.  Governor Patrick is black, the mayor of Cambridge is black and both live in a country with a black president.  The black professor Gates graduated from Yale and shortly thereafter boarded the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 for further study at the University of Cambridge in England.  Gates also received generous fellowship dollars in order to facilitate the completion of his graduate degree in English.  He has held teaching posts at some of America’s premier universities including Duke, Cornell and Harvard.

On the other hand, eighteen white firefighters were denied their promotions by a judicial system concerned about the disparate impact some hard working white guys might have on the power structure in New Haven, Connecticut.  Frank Ricci studied hard for his promotion and after being a victim of racial profiling was denied his reward.  Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was profiled a little differently and received a red carpet treatment.

Sgt. Crowley is a white police officer who was racially profiled by both President Obama and Professor Gates.  Both black men made an initial assumption about Sgt. Crowley’s intentions and proceeded to impugn his actions.  Professor Gates went so far as to call Sgt. Crowley, according to ABC News, a “racist.”  One has to wonder: Harvard, Yale, and Columbia – all that education and all that money – to simply reaffirm a tired ideology about the white power structure.

What’s every white man’s nightmare?  To be treated as a stereotype and as less than human.  Several decades ago the federal government decided to atone for America’s accumulated racial sins by targeting a small group of innocent victims: white males applying for promotions in education and other state professions.  The program is called “Affirmative Action.”  So much for spreading the blame around.

In 1953 Ralph Ellison won a National Book Award for a novel that explored the effects of being treated like a stereotype.  The book is called Invisible Man.  


“Every black man’s nightmare” is how Massachusetts’s governor Deval Patrick recently described the controversy surrounding the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  While speaking to a throng of reporters in a hallway at the State House Patrick added that the treatment of Gates was “a reality for many black men” in America.

Let’s see.  Governor Patrick is black, the mayor of Cambridge is black and both live in a country with a black president.  The black professor Gates graduated from Yale and shortly thereafter boarded the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 for further study at the University of Cambridge in England.  Gates also received generous fellowship dollars in order to facilitate the completion of his graduate degree in English.  He has held teaching posts at some of America’s premier universities including Duke, Cornell and Harvard.

On the other hand, eighteen white firefighters were denied their promotions by a judicial system concerned about the disparate impact some hard working white guys might have on the power structure in New Haven, Connecticut.  Frank Ricci studied hard for his promotion and after being a victim of racial profiling was denied his reward.  Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was profiled a little differently and received a red carpet treatment.

Sgt. Crowley is a white police officer who was racially profiled by both President Obama and Professor Gates.  Both black men made an initial assumption about Sgt. Crowley’s intentions and proceeded to impugn his actions.  Professor Gates went so far as to call Sgt. Crowley, according to ABC News, a “racist.”  One has to wonder: Harvard, Yale, and Columbia – all that education and all that money – to simply reaffirm a tired ideology about the white power structure.

What’s every white man’s nightmare?  To be treated as a stereotype and as less than human.  Several decades ago the federal government decided to atone for America’s accumulated racial sins by targeting a small group of innocent victims: white males applying for promotions in education and other state professions.  The program is called “Affirmative Action.”  So much for spreading the blame around.

In 1953 Ralph Ellison won a National Book Award for a novel that explored the effects of being treated like a stereotype.  The book is called Invisible Man.