While President Barack Obama finishes plans for his first kegger since taking up residence in the White House, the real issue of racism in America becomes more and more convoluted.

This new "Let's have a beer and hug it out" diplomacy could really catch on internationally. Hillary Clinton could do some body shots with Vladmir Putin to smooth over the ripples caused by Vice President Joe Biden's recent "weakened Russia" comments.

It wouldn't work with the War on Terror, though. Osama Bin Laden reportedly has kidney issues and he probably isn't in the mood to party anyway - after we killed his son and all.

But before our country goes from being a world power to the Upsilon Sigma Alpha (USA) Fraternity, maybe we can have one last frank discussion on what racism is and what it isn't.

When Cambridge Mass. Police Sgt. James Crowley arrested Harvard Professor Henry Lewis Gates at his own home last week I don't think it was overt racism at all. Had the professor remained calm and showed the officer even a small percentage of the respect he expected, Gates would almost certainly not have been arrested.

But because he didn't want to be "hassled" by an officer, his attitude bought him a trip downtown.

He may have even deserved it. We don't know all the facts, yet.

Regardless, how many of us believe that his race played no part in this arrest? Latent racism is almost impossible to stamp out.

I came from an area where there is a significant number of native Americans, Hispanics and black people. I was never isolated enough to develop overt racist tendencies. Too many of my friends and classmates were of different races for me to learn to hate.

But if I cover a high school basketball game and one team has only white players and the other team has only black players I still have that latent racist reaction that I expect the black team to win.

That is a ridiculous supposition on my part. But it has happened.

Would the officer have been as quick to arrest a white professor with a British accent? I doubt it.
Professor Gates has received a lot of support from those who think he was wrongly arrested. As a black man, he has felt the effects of racism his entire life. He wasn't about to play the victim to some white cop.

Couldn't Gates have shown some restraint rather than immediately assuming that the white cop was hassling him? People who live in the projects complain that when there are crimes in their neighborhoods, no officers respond to help them.

Gates benefited from a quick response. There could have been intruders in his home. There weren't, but there could have been. Couldn't he have just turned the other cheek and let the issue dissolve?

Of course, anytime the media covers a racially charged issue, they can't help but show their own natural inclinations, as well.

Is it not at least a little racist for CNN to have a reporter find a black female officer and get her "take" on Obama's comment about her comrade on the force? She was all over that network and conservative blogs because she said she had voted for Obama but would not in the future.

The Obama 2012 campaign almost certainly leapt into action trying to find a token white female who would pledge her support for Obama in 2012 because of this incident.

The mindset of "I bet even black people are mad about this" is even more racist than the issue that their race made them somehow more qualified to comment on.

Unfortunately, racism in America is not a black and white issue.

We've come a long way but the road ahead is long and winding and fraught with stumbling blocks.
However, it is always a two-way street where both blame and the heavy burden of progress can be shared.

Hype, overreaction and pseudo-victimization for the sake of inspiring outrage are not part of the solution. Until, from the top down, we learn to maximize information and minimize reaction, the problem will not subside.