The XX Factor

Skip Gates Comes Up With His Own Silver Lining

There’s much to rue in the story of how Henry Louis Gates Jr. (editor-in-chief of our sister site, The Root ) was arrested at his house last week. Was it supposedly disorderly conduct when Gates asked to see a Cambridge cop’s badge and ID? Or when he said the cop was making a mistake based on racial profiling? The charge was dropped this afternoon, lucky for the cop.

Maybe something good can come of this, though. The incident is a reminder that we don’t live in a post-racial society, no matter how often the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said so last week in grilling Judge Sonia Sotomayor. We live in a society in which race and inequality are still threaded together. Yes, often class matters as much as or more than skin color. But not always. Look at the arrest photo of Gates in his spectacles and red striped polo.

And a silver lining from Gates himself: a renewed focus for his’ prodigious energies: He told the Washington Post that he “will now apply the scholarship that has been his life’s work to the issue of race in the criminal justice system.”

Photograph of Henry Louis Gates Jr. by HBO/Getty Images.