Many people are unwilling to accept the concept that black lives are being targeted. For those unwilling people, black lives are not under a unique attack; however, there is a dispute among this group as to whether or not there is an overall policing problem.
Furthermore, it must be understood that rioting is neither a black nor an American phenomenon. Riots are brought about for foolish reasons, although the death of Freddie Gray is not one of these.
In this case, rioting is an unwise, but understandable response to outrage over the murder of Freddie Gray and the overall devaluation of black lives. While I do not endorse rioting, I understand why and how the anger has manifested itself into violence.
However, the incursion on black lives is not a political issue and is not an attack on white lives; and needs to be understood as such. The Black Lives Matter movement is not a political problem, but an American one.
It perturbs me how analysts such as Pamela Geller post pictures of rioters with captions like, “#LiberalFailedPolicies.”
The issues of policing minority communities and crippling economic segregation are not liberal problems.
Solutions to these issues may be political, but the issues themselves are not, nor are they solely Black-American problems. They are American issues, which cross all party and racial lines.
Americans should not know the names Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. All of these men (I hesitate to say men, as Rice was only 12 when he was shot and killed) should still be alive.
Many of you will point out that Gray had an extensive rap sheet and Brown seriously scuffled with Darren Wilson, a white officer. Simply put, I do not care.
When Michael Brown was shot, Officer Darren Wilson was not in immediate danger; and therefore deadly force was not needed.
Freddie Gray may have had a rap sheet, but an arrest of a healthy man certainly should not result in fatal spinal cord injuries. Many of you will also clarify that Gray was running away from the police. Again, I do not care. Running away from police is not admirable, nor is it intelligent, but a severed spinal cord is not the prescribed punishment.
Although the policemen involved in Gray’s homicide have been charged, this is not a guarantee of a justice, although it is a first step.
The comment I have seen echoed on many articles and Facebook posts is, “why do only black lives matter? All lives matter!” Yes, all lives do matter. A black life matters just as much as a white life. The difference is that there is no systematic abuse against whites.
Blacks came to this country as slaves, suffered through years of segregation and are now subject to policing inequality, as well as a host of other issues.
At this point in American history, #BlackLivesMatter is used to indicate that these are lives that need attention and protection. These are the lives that are far too often ended by unethical policing.
Although I am only about two inches shorter and 70 pounds lighter than Michael Brown, I am likely not viewed as a “demon.” As a white man, I have an advantage in dealing with police.
Being approached by a policeman is not something that worries me. I do not fear the police; and I certainly do not fret over escaping with my life and health.
This inherent safety and near guarantee of my life is an absolute white privilege. There is no other race in America that is as comfortable around police.
Police do not assume I have a rap sheet, nor do they assume I am a thug, and don’t punish as such. Whites in America have the ability to inherently trust the police, a privilege blacks still yearn for.
Black lives are currently under unique assault, which is exactly why they matter.
I’ve heard over the past few days how idiotic and thuggish the Baltimore rioters are. How about when a group of mainly whites rioted in 1998 after the Broncos won the Super Bowl?
What about in 2012, in serene San Francisco, after the Giants won the World Series?
Or in Lexington, Kentucky after Kentucky won the NCAA championship in 2012?
Finally, how about at Penn State, when students rioted after Joe Paterno was fired?
Rioting is not an inherently black phenomenon, and often has nothing to do with race. It is disgusting that people are willing to be silent when a group of rambunctious white teens riot, but to be furious when blacks riot in response to the systematic murder of their people.
Students at Penn State rioted when a coach was fired for ignoring the sexual abuse of children, and few people batted an eye, or wrote think pieces condemning these thugs.
However, when the participants in the riots of Ferguson and Baltimore respond to systematic racism, they are condemned as thugs and hoodlums.
Property damage is awful, especially when it is an innate response to meaningless events, such as at Penn State, San Francisco, Kentucky and Denver. In these cases, I would expect outrage over the property damage, as there was no rhyme or reason.
However, this furor has also come when property damage is a vehement response to institutionalized racism.
The next time a white city or town riots, I urge for you all to write your self-righteous Facebook posts about the hoodlums.
For now, attempt to understand the anger that blacks in Baltimore and America are feeling. Clearly, the manifestation of this anger in the form of property damage is not the critical issue.
I am not black, and I’m sure many of you reading are not as well.
Therefore, I ask you to think of a group you identify with. This could be an association you belong to, or a more deeply engrained characteristic such as a race or religion. Now imagine that every 28 hours, one of those men is killed by police.
I’m guessing that your emotions would not be controlled, nor would they be entirely peaceful.
You should feel anger, sadness and a whole host of other emotions that only come to mind when describing the attempted-extermination of my group in the Holocaust.
Now look at the situation of blacks and understand their pain, understand their anger. Reactions to events such as these should be acrimonious and emotionally charged.
That is not to say that they should be violent, but it is important to understand the place from which riots have emerged.