Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dr Boyce Watkins, Roland Martin, Anderson Cooper: Transcript

COOPER: Professor Watkins, do you believe this is an issue about race, or do you think this is an issue of two people with -- with big egos or clashing egos?

WATKINS: I think that the answer is that we don't know.

And that is the problem, that we were making bandwagon assumptions based on things we didn't know. Look, either Sergeant Crowley violated procedure or he didn't. If he did violate procedure, he either violated it because Skip Gates was black or for some other reason.

But the truth is that we can't read this man's mind. And, so, the truth -- the reality is that this could have happened to someone of another ethnicity, potentially, particularly when you look throughout Sergeant Crowley's record.

And I assume that he wouldn't be teaching classes on racial sensitivity if he had a record of arresting black men for no reason. Now, I'm not trying to say that this did not happen in this case. I'm not anybody is a liar.

But what I'm saying is that we can't use this case as a -- some sort of poster child for racial-profiling issues across America, because there is real racial profiling that goes on, on places other than Harvard University, because I guarantee you this much.

MARTIN: Anderson...

WATKINS: Skip Gates is a guy who knows he is Skip Gates.

And being a black professor at Harvard, with all the money that Skip has, I guarantee you he has probably got more privilege than most white Americans have anyway.


MARTIN: Anderson, race -- race is involved, because you all -- look, when you step back and say, here, you have an African-American professor in his home. The cop comes there.

The black officer said, I think it may have been -- differently if it was an African-American cop with this actual black male here. What we have to learn here is, what is going through a black man's mind when this kind of thing is happening?

Again, people say, well, it needs to be overt. Well, people all self-perceive things differently. What is implied? What is inferred? And, so, here, he is standing here saying, this is how I am interpreting this.

We cannot dismiss that and say, well, that is not relevant. It is relevant, because it happens every day. People make assumptions. Women make assumptions based upon, well, is this happening to me because I am a woman? Is this happening to me because I am Hispanic? COOPER: But some assumptions are correct and some assumptions are not.

MARTIN: Absolutely. But that's why we can't...

WATKINS: Right. Absolutely.

MARTIN: That's why there is no hard-and-fast rule to say, well, was race a role?

It could have been a role. And, so, we have to examine that. That is why the conversation is so important, so we can understand the give-and-take and what people feel and what they experience and what perception is.

WATKINS: And -- and we -- and we have to understand that -- that racial healing is something that is going to require patience.

I think that Dr. Gates and all of us...

MARTIN: And work.

WATKINS: Let's assume Dr. Gates is right about this. He needs to ask himself a question: What would Martin Luther King do? How would he handle this?

Would he say, I demand that he -- he should beg me for my forgiveness, and I might give it to him?


WATKINS: Or would he say, look, I forgive you?

Because, remember, the disease of racism, Roland, it affects all of us. All of us are victims of this.

MARTIN: Oh, I agree, Boyce. I...


WATKINS: And, so, you know, when you're...


WATKINS: ... who may or may not do something wrong, you have got to at least approach that situation with strength and understanding at the same time.

COOPER: We have got to...


COOPER: A final thought, Roland.

MARTIN: Well, you know, he's also an African scholar. He also may say -- for a look at how Malcolm X looks at it. Look, we can all try to hold Dr. King up, but the bottom line is, Skip Gates is not Dr. King. He is Skip Gates. He has to look at it from his perspective, and no one else's.

COOPER: Well, we're going to leave it there.

Roland Martin and Boyce Watkins, good discussion, as always. Thank you, gentlemen.

As always, a lot more to see online at, including a new blog posting from Professor Watkins. It's a good read, and a complete copy of the arrest report, which is also fascinating to read.

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