A race condition or race hazard is a flaw in a system or process whereby the output and/or result of the process is unexpectedly and critically dependent on the sequence or timing of other events. The term originates with the idea of two signals racing each other to influence the output first.
Whenever I think of the words "race condition", I think of the engineering definition above. How two signals are trying to get to the end first. Which signal should wait? Which signal should have gotten there first?
However, Race Conditions has a whole new meaning in Cambridge Mass these days. I work in Cambridge. I have seen the homes in the area. Well, in the Harvard area, they are beautiful. If I had a spare $2-3 million hanging around, I would get one. Then I could walk to work AND have a yard. And I might have Professor Gates as my neighbor.
Professor Gates was recently arrested for the hideous crime of ENTERING HIS OWN HOME. Okay, technically, he was arrested for being black and trying to open a sticky door of his own home. A neighbor called 911 on the request of another neighbor. She even told the dispatcher that it might be the home owners trying to unstick the door. The dispatcher asked about the race of the suspects.
The police officers who arrived were NOT TOLD that it might be the home owners. They were told it was a possible B&E. They confronted Professor Gates and insisted that he show proof that he was the homeowner. Professor Gates was angry and argued with the officers. He asked for a badge number which the officer refused (I’ve also had this happen. They are supposed to give it to you, but in my case, the officer covered his badge and refused to give it to me) He was arrested for disorderly conduct.
Now there are accusations of racism abounding. There was a 2 page article in the Boston Globe about the officer in question and how he tried to save Reggie Lewis’ life when he collapsed at the Celtics Training facility. Therefore, he can’t be racist, can he?
Here’s my issues with this whole thing:
- During the summer, there are more break ins on these houses because everybody knows they have money and are down on the Cape and the Islands.
- The dispatcher failed to give the officers more information
- I could be wrong, but I thought an officer needed a warrant to enter your home without your permission. You can refuse an officer entrance to your home.
- racism is not, pardon the pun, a black and white issue.
We all harbor prejudices. I actually go out of my way to make eye contact with people who are of different races. Why? Because I know that many whites fail to look into the eyes of others. I like to put people on common grounds. You don’t need to be racist to have racial prejudices. Statistically, how many African-Americans own those Brattle Street homes? Probably few. Statistically, how many people arrested for B&E in this section of Cambridge are African-American versus white? I have no clue, but I am sure the arresting officer had a clue.
And how many people, like Professor Gates, get sick and tired of having to be judged on their appearance? Since 9/11, Jay has stopped growing a beard or goatee. The last time he did, he was stopped at the airport and searched and pulled aside. Why? His Semitic genes made him look more Arab than Jewish with the beard.
Just because we finally have an African-American in the white house, it doesn’t mean we have solved our racial issues in this country. We need to work on this. We, the privileged whites, need to understand what it is like to have people assume that you fit a statistic just because of your skin color. We don’t see it. We don’t get accused or watched just because of how our pigment in our skin was formed.
How can we work on our race condition in the United States? What should we do to really start fixing this?