Thought for the Day:
“A riot is the language of the unheard.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Question for the Day:
Are you angrier about the riots or the reason for the riots?
This topic is a difficult one for me to tackle. Like a lot of other black people, the current civil unrest invokes so many mixed emotions. As I watch buildings burn to the ground, people (OF ALL SHADES) break into store windows and make off with stolen merchandise, floods of people taking to the streets with fists up proclaiming that Black Lives Matter, police standing by in riot gear, and Trump basically giving the green light for officers to shoot, I quite literally feel everything, but none of it really good.
I guess in some ways, I’m glad that so many people are not just allowing George Floyd’s death to be swept aside and excused as another “slip up” by the police. Perhaps, people are finally starting to accept what we as African American people have known forever, that we are disproportionately abused, jailed and killed by the police even for minor offenses and many times, for no offense at all. Blacks With The Blues However, that small sliver of validation pales in comparison to my frustration with the fact that this long overdue acknowledgement had to wait until our society was literally within an inch of completely imploding.
And even still, without any organized effort or strategical approach to resisting in the name of systemic change, all of this could amount to little more than some charred buildings, the loss of jobs, the closing of small businesses and racists having yet another excuse to hate us and justify the disregard for our lives. Despite there being plenty of obvious agitators hijacking he movement in hopes of inciting a race war or others just plotting to make off with the newest iPhone, its black people, most of whom had the best intentions for meaningful protest, who will continue to take the blame.
America’s racial issues ALWAYS seem to be our fault. When Colin Kaepernick quietly took a knee during the national anthem, he was unpatriotic and disrespecting the country. When we take to the streets and bring the ruckus, we’re uncivilized “thugs” who should go back to Africa. When Martin Luther King advocated for non-violence, he was assassinated. When Malcolm X advocated for self-protection “by any means necessary,” he too, was assassinated. Black people are apparently to blame for their own false arrests, their own unnecessary deaths, and their anger for both. And when we finally give up and just flatout rage in frustration for NEVER being afforded a proper channel for expressing our anguish or the ability to challenge the injustices continuously perpetrated against us, even then we are to blame!! So you tell me, what the heck are black people who are tired of being oppressed supposed to do?
So when people ask me what I think about “all the rioting,” I just want to slap them. How do you think I feel? How do you think we’ve always felt? In fact, instead of wondering how I feel about the rioting, how about asking yourself how YOU FEEL ABOUT POLICE BRUTALITY because that’s the real question! No, having to result to rioting doesn’t bring any black person happiness. We’re not secretly enjoying watching our people get shot with rubber bullets or gassed because we want to live. Going up against the National Guard and a wall of cops in combat mode doesn’t bring us relief and it certainly doesn’t bring back George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Arrested Development (What Happened to Sandra Bland?) Oscar Grant, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Philando Castille, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Terrance Cruther, Walter Scott, Amadou Diallo, Alton Sterling, Jordan Edwards, Sean Bell, Freddie Gray………….
You may not believe this, or want to believe this, but most of us are decent, hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens who have been trying our best to play by America’s rules for centuries and still, it’s only when we abandon our decorum and bring the heat that America finally perks up and takes notice. Rioting shouldn’t be the only way to give a voice to what concerns black people. But even when all the chaos finally gets folks’ attention, it’s not because they care about what we have to say, but because it offers them yet another excuse to blame, hate, beat, incarcerate, and murder us. So on one hand, rioting is kind of pointless because it’s like hitting the repeat button on the very cycle that got us here in the first place. But on the other hand, it seems to be the only language an America that was built on violence can seem to understand.
So if you want to know “how I feel about the riots” that are currently plaguing our cities, the truth is, it depends on what day you ask. I’m sure I speak for most black people when I say, I’m not sure if anyone cares about my feelings anyway. So one day, I might say “Burn, baby, burn!” and another day I might say, “Burn down for what?”
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”