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Prove you live in your house

July 28, 2009 - Paul Giannamore

Can I prove I indeed am a resident of LaCasa Giannamore if asked?

The arrest of professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. got me to thinking that I could not, if asked, indeed show title to my house. I could show a driver's license with the address and, if the car was nearby, show a registration with my home address, but that's about it. And by the time I showed those, I'd be angry. And if further questions about my residency came from the police officer, I'd be really angry.

The caller in the Gates incident did what I would expect a good citizen to do. Upon seeing someone forcing their way into a house, she dialed 911. The fact that she didn't get into saying anything about the race of the people she saw forcing their way into the house adds to the concept here that this was simply the act of a good citizen, not someone assuming the worst about someone with a different skin color from her own.

The police responded. Gates said it was his house. Gates showed them a driver's license. Gates was angry he had to prove it was his house and that, apparently, led to his arrest.

A deep breath on either side calms the situation. Other than pictures on the walls, my license and my registration, I cannot prove to a police officer I live in my house. If a police officer was asking me for further proof, I guarantee you I'd be indignant. Imagine having to prove that you live in your home.

Now, factor in the attitude that exists in the black community that police are unfair to black people. Whether you believe that police are indeed unfair or not isn't the issue. The perception exists. Was Henry Louis Gates Jr. out of line, then, to be angry?

I'd venture to say, without racial issues involved, I'd be pretty angry in that situation, so, no, I think he was right.

Did the officer do his job? Probably up until the point where he arrested Gates for being unruly. I'd add he was unruly IN HIS OWN HOUSE that he was BEING ASKED TO PROVE WAS HIS HOUSE!

Deep breath people.

Because I know that when El Duque(sne) (formerly known as The Drummer) goes away to college, eventually I will face a situation where my wife is at work, my neighbor with my spare key is away and I will have left my keys at work or in my bedroom. And I will use a technique to get into my house.

If a Toronto cop goes by, one who doesn't know me, I will be asked to prove I live in my house. And I will be pissed off. Period. Will I be arrested?

A black man in his own house will tell you that definitely he'd be arrested. I can't say the same about me because my perception of life is different. And therein lies the racial overtone of the incident, and the chance to discuss and learn from one another.

Hope that happens.


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