Wednesday, April 29, 2015

That Baltimore riot: Black people are America's canary in the coal mine and more tales of global unrest

As I said on Rita Arens's post at, I'm ready to say more about police brutality and the Baltimore riot, but it's probably the more of what's already been said. When will it all stop? 

Of course, I'm "against the violence," which is why I agree that police officers need to be held accountable for being so violent and aggressive with black people, our youth included.

We have grown men and women officers who repeatedly get shoulders to cry on when they overuse force--people who are sworn to protect and serve the people--but many of us have no compassion for young people rioting in the streets of a Ferguson or a Baltimore. We lose all patients even when those young people have good reason to be angry, and science tell us their brains have not reached maturity yet. 

Yes, some of the people rioting are violent-loving opportunists who saw a chance to be destructive or loot and they took it. But make no mistake here--a lot of those people are also angry and lashing out because they believe there is no justice in America for people who look, sound, and live like them and no chance for a productive future. People without hope have little to lose.

But to put this last week in a global perspective, white European youth (Spain and Greece) have been rioting for at least the last five years. First it was for lack of economic opportunity and against austerity measures (reduction of government help), but some in Greece have rioted this year because of the increase in police violence against them and the crackdowns on young activists that have happened in the wake of these riots.

Really, I've been surprised that we haven't seen more black and brown youth rioting across America. They have higher rates of unemployment and are hassled more by the police. 

Hassled is such a weak word when I recall that Trayvon Martin was presumed to be guilty although he was the one dead in the grass; Mike Brown was shot at least five times and described as a beast; Tamir Rice was gunned down like a rabid dog at age 12; and Freddie Gray was stopped for essentially being afraid of the police yet died with broken ribs, a lacerated spleen, a crushed vocal box, and his spine severed at the neck. (As you can see I haven't even addressed the Latinos, Native Americans, and older black people who've been killed recently such as Walter Scott nor the myriad instances of increasing police overreach or negligence that did not result in death.)

There's a saying that "when America's white community catches a cold, its black community gets pneumonia." I submit that a similar thought works: In America, black people are the caged canary in the coal mine

If America doesn't pay closer attention to the real issues stifling the lives of poor black people -- if America keeps isolating issues in the black community as "the black problem," it won't be long before the whole nation needs gas masks.

Related: Baltimore Fox station stokes racial tensions with fake story, December 2014

1 comment:

bellecamino said...

Damn, that last line gave me chills.