Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

FOR THE WEEK OF AUG. 03, 2009

Harvard professor's arrest sharpens the focus on race relations

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This saga and the issues involved remain a hot topic, particularly on opinion pages and reader forums. Look for fresh comments.
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Journalists work to reflect diverse faces in news and feature coverage, particularly on topics have nothing to do with race. Find an example.
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News developments regularly provide as "teachable moments" for adults and students alike. See if you can spot a story in any section -- including Sports -- that's a conversation-starter about broader topics such as personal values or behavior.

Americans are abuzz about race again. The focus this time is the disorderly conduct arrest last month of a prominent black scholar, Henry Louis Gates of Harvard University, at his home in Cambridge, Mass., after he yelled angrily at a white police sergeant investigating a possible break-in there. The charge was dropped quickly, but the spark had been lit for heavy media coverage and lively discussions in schools, offices, shops, homes and even the White House.

President Obama, the first African American in that job, called the incident "a teachable moment" and a reminder that racial profiling "still haunts us." (Profiling refers to assumptions based on a person's appearance, including age, race and ethnicity.) Obama hosted a meeting for nearly an hour last Thursday with both men. James Crowley, the 42-year-old police sergeant, said he and the 58-year-old professor "agreed to disagree" and "decided to look forward." [See his full comments in the video below.]
Gates suggested the case showed Americans "that we can have our differences without demonizing one another. There's reason to hope that many people have emerged with greater sympathy for the daily perils of policing, on the one hand, and for the genuine fears about racial profiling, on the other hand."

Reactions to what happened in the July 16 confrontation are influenced by race in some instances. "For many black men," columnist Charles Blow wrote in The New York Times, "a negative, sometimes racially charged, encounter with a policeman is a far-too-common rite of passage." Blow, who is black, described two personal experiences with police hostility during traffic stops. A 2008 poll by his paper and CBS News asked: Have you ever felt you were stopped by the police just because of your race or ethnic background? Sixty-six percent of black men said yes. Only 9 percent of white men said the same.

Law professor says: "Racial profiling -- even if it's based on accurate generalizations -- imposes a disproportionate share of the costs of law enforcement on innocent blacks, like Professor Gates. Let's face it: It's hard to imagine that police would have presumed that a middle-aged white man who walks with a cane was a burglar." -- Richard Thompson Ford, Stanford Law School in California

Law enforcer says: "There's a fine line between disorderly conduct and freedom of speech. It can get tough out there, but I tell my officers, 'Don't make matters worse by throwing handcuffs on someone. Bite your tongue and just leave.' " -- Chief John Timoney, Miami Police Department

Blogger says: "Yes, America has a black president. But some things haven't changed that much." -- Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic magazine


Front Page Talking Points is written by Felix Grabowski and Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2014
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