Commentary: Let’s Understand The Rioting

Original artwork by Ella Ramos ('21)

Original artwork by Ella Ramos ('21)

Eva d'Entremont ('22)

Martin Luther King, Jr.  said, “A riot is the language of the unheard”. Because Black people have been so unjustly “unheard”, the riots you currently see on TV and in our cities are going to be unjustly violent. This is not to condone violence, but we must understand it. 

Those who are rioting are showing the grief they and their ancestors have experienced. This intensity of feeling is shown through riots. If people honestly examine what has been happening, they might understand why protesters would ransack a Target.   Some reports say that this Minneapolis Target was specifically ransacked in response to them refusing to provide them with milk when they were tear gassed.  Target has also provided funds for increased police surveillance that some believe has contributed to inner city neighborhoods feeling like police states.  Nothing equals what the African American race has experienced, so we can handle the violation of a football hall of fame, of local businesses, or a corrupt Target. 

Donald Trump dealt with protesters preaching “freedom” of the restrictions of safety from COVID-19 by calling them “very good people”, but when the protests are preaching freedom of the restrictions on Black lives, he refers to the protesters as “thugs”. Although these rallies are reasonable, those who oppose the rallies think, “It’s too much” or “It’s too extreme.” It is time for these people to know: it has to get worse before it gets better. Good can come from bad, no matter how bad that bad is. Nothing will change until the loudest voices are heard. These protesters are fighting for a nation of African Americans because George Floyd can’t. The level of intensity and violence from these protests, not only in Minneapolis, but across America, is a response to the level of intensity and violence given to African Americans since the beginning of slavery. What you give is what you get. It’s only violent because not enough has changed since the beginning of black prejudice in the minds of American citizens. Black people have tried to be peaceful. For years they have been silenced when protesting. That has clearly not worked enough. The longer change doesn’t happen, the longer and the more furious protestors will become. If you asked for freedom 400 years ago and were not listened to then, imagine the complete exhaustion being felt 400 years after the introduction of slavery when asking the same exact question. A question that Abraham Lincoln asked… that Martin Luther King asked… that Malcolm X asked… A question that any participant of a Black rights protest asked. Any person who has ever held up a #blacklivesmatter sign. A question that the entire African American race asked: when will we be equal?

What can I do so my children don’t ask the same question?  

It’s only violent, right now, because Emmett Till could not glance at a white woman without being lynched. It’s only violent, right now, because Ahmaud Arbery couldn’t jog without losing his life… because Kevin Davis couldn’t defend his girlfriend from armed police without losing his life… because Jordan Davis couldn’t play loud music without losing his life… because Amadou Diallo couldn’t take out his wallet without dying. It is only violent because George Floyd could not breathe. Because Black people don’t deserve the hate we give. Black people don’t deserve the inescapable feeling of being hunted. That’s why they ransack. Because they continue to be ransacked as human beings. 

Enough is enough because the last 400 years of fighting clearly has not abolished the brainwashing effect that white skin is better than black skin. It is a skin color. It is not a dividing wall. Black people have already spoken and people have already decided what they speak won’t be listened to. What did the Civil War do if racism is still interwoven in modern society? What did those soldiers die for? What did MLK fight for? The same reason why George Floyd was killed just last week in the year 2020. Africans were tortured through slavery beginning in the year 1619.  Civil War soldiers died in the years 1861-1865.  The Civil Rights Movement began in the 1950’s. George Floyd, Ahmud Arbery, Breanna Taylor, Anthony Hill, Kevin Davis, Sandra Bland… and so many more died due to racism in the year 2020…

And the “United” States of America STILL hasn’t found a way to be united.