Once again, a city finds itself engulfed in flames. Once again I hear the argument that people riot because it’s the only way they get heard. Once again, I am told I can’t possibly understand because I’m white.
Once again, people are trying to justify violence against people who have done nothing except open a business in an area that needed the services. Once again, thousands of dollars worth of damage is done to public safety vehicles. Once again, officers ended up injured.
Once again, people will rally to destroy their city. Once again, others will state we must stand in solidarity with those who feel oppressed. Once again, we hear that curfews will not stop the message of outrage.
I ask this. How long will people continue to believe the “race card” is a valid reason to destroy one’s neighborhood, loot stores and destroy the very equipment they count on to come save their lives? How much longer until people look around and see that while poverty exists, burning businesses won’t help lift anyone up. How much longer will it take for people to understand that parts of our global community make do with far less and are still considered successful?
Oh yes, you can say I live in an ivory tower. That I have no idea what oppression feels like. That since I’ve never “lived it” I have no room to talk. Well, courtesy of that great invention called the television as well as 24 hour news, I can see for myself what’s happening. I saw a mother so disgusted with her son’s action that she went to the riot location and dragged him away. I can see the pictures of people passing out cold water and juice to the first responders protecting their neighborhood. I can see people cleaning up after a night of vandalism, with nothing to gain except reclaiming their neighborhood. I can see hard-working individuals attempting to preserve their property in the face of random acts of violence.
I heard the pleas of Freddie Grey’s family to stop the violence. I listened to the family as they publicly told people that rioting was not the way to seek justice. They called for calm amidst the rioting. The family asked many times for people to just stop. The pleas fell on deaf ears and another city burned.
You know nothing of me and the trials I face everyday. You think prejudice only “belongs” to certain ethnic groups or socio-economic statuses. You are wrong. What you don’t see are the groups who work diligently to eradicate prejudice across society by working tirelessly to secure basic human rights for all. You don’t see the countless hours spent by people working to shed light on injustices in their cities…not by rioting but by educating. You don’t see the organizations feeding our hungry and sheltering our homeless. You don’t see the thousands of people working to improve living conditions for all.
You don’t see this because riots are sensational. Because we buy into sensationalism instead of sensibility. We ignore the good that is happening around us in favor of elevating the things that feed the news.
Nepal suffered a major earthquake with thousands dead or missing. A devastating landslide wiped out a major national park in Nepal. Both events barely received a mention on the news. The immediate aid that was sent by many countries had a scant 15 seconds of air time last night. Neighbors helping neighbors was drowned out by violence here in the United States.
No wonder people think the worst will happen. Our gloomy view of the world is actually a heavy cloud seeded by lust for so-called justice. It is no secret that people around the world look at the United States and wonder what the hell is going on over here. Everyone has problems. People are suffering everywhere. And yet, people in the US burn the things that help them. Any ideas on how grateful the Nepalese people would be to have a functional pharmacy right now? You can bet they wouldn’t be burning it to the ground.
To those who say there is no comparison, you may be right. How does a natural disaster compare to a riot. Well, they don’t. A man-made disaster is exactly that….man made. We brought this mess upon ourselves. The reasons can be stated in many ways, but we did this to ourselves. Now we need to dig ourselves out.
I’m done apologizing for the past. My “ancestors” were never a part of what the “oppression” that keeps getting tossed out as a reason for destroying neighborhoods. The past is just that…past. Start looking forward and let go of whatever you believe is holding you back. If people half a world away can pull themselves up from the rubble of natural disaster, there is no reason people in the United States can’t stop their rioting long enough to appreciate that destroying their neighborhoods doesn’t serve any purpose.