I remember sitting in a pizza shop with some co-workers the day the riots in Ferguson, Missouri reached their climax. CNN was on the television showing images of police in riot gear clashing with angry black residents. Cars were overturned, stores were smashed, whole neighborhoods burned. As we sat and watched, I braced myself for the inevitable question someone would eventually blurt out.
“Why would they do that to their own community?”
Oh yeah, my co-workers are all white. This matters for context only. I’m not racist, I swear.
As the only person of color at the table I was somehow expected to have the answer to this question. It is a question people of color are always asked when these types of situations play out. It was asked during the Ferguson riots, it was asked during the Baltimore riots, it was asked during the LA riots back when Rodney King made his famous plea of “can’t we all just get along?” For such a seemingly simple concept the answer is and always has been exceedingly complex. There really is no answer in my estimation. On many levels it simply doesn’t make sense.
Rioting as a form of protest is a paradoxical concept. I’ve never been able to wrap my head around it as a strategic maneuver. I’ve always seen it more as a purely instinctual, emotionally charged response. Like a child throwing a tantrum when their parents won’t buy them a toy at the store. It’s more likely to get them a beating than what they want (depending on how shitty the parents are).
This is why when someone asks me to explain the logic behind what transpires during riots I cringe. Logic is never the driving force behind a riot. Anger. Hurt. Desperation. These are the catalysts at play. It makes me sad to see the disenfranchised destroy what little they have. The images that we see on the news are startling. All over we see mostly young black men and women lashing out in the only way they seem to know how.
The perception of the angry black youth may be more alive and well in today’s America than it has ever been. For the hundreds of peaceful protests that have taken place over the past few years, it is the images from Baltimore and Ferguson that endure in the country’s psyche. The Black Lives Matter movement is viewed more as a domestic terrorist cell by many than an as a group of activists seeking justice. To sum this all up in simple terminology, WE ARE A BUNCH OF SCARY MOTHERFUCKERS!
People do crazy stuff when they are scared. More specifically white people do crazy stuff when they are scared. You think its bad when black people get angry? Or hurt? Or desperate? You think its bad to turn on your TV and see what happens when poor communities in Ferguson and Baltimore stop making sense? Turn on your TV right now and you can see what happens when the entire country stops making sense.
As recently as a year ago Donald Trump was a laughing stock. His run for the presidency was still viewed as an elaborate publicity stunt. Now here we sit, six months away from the election hoping and praying that he doesn’t score enough delegates to guarantee a nomination as the Republican candidate. He has done this while running the least presidential campaign in this country’s history. He has slandered women, advocated violence against protesters at his rallies, and run on a platform built around intolerance and xenophobia. He has proclaimed that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and not lose any votes” AND HE HAS BEEN PROVEN CORRECT! He even did the unthinkable recently and referred to the events of 9/11 as 7/11 in a speech. He did not correct himself. He also did not skip a beat in the polls.
We wouldn’t have let Steve Harvey get away with that!
To think that in 2004, Howard Dean, considered by many to be the front runner for the Democratic nomination, had his whole campaign derailed because he let out an awkward overly enthusiastic cheer at the end of one of his speeches. He literally did nothing wrong. He was just a huge dork is all. Seems unthinkable that this sort of thing could tank a campaign today. On the bright side it did lead to some hilarious spoofs.
Like this one – Dave Chapelle – BYAAHHHH!!!
How did things get to be this way? What the hell is wrong with everyone? Well, as is the case with almost everything over the past 8 years, you can place most of the blame with Obama. Having to deal with Obama as president for two whole terms has driven many backwards ass people to drastic measures. He is the embodiment for everything they fear and loathe.
Terrorist-y sounding name? CHECK!
Smooth black dude who could probably steal your girl? CHECK!
Uppity ass educated negro? DOUBLE CHECK!!!
To have this man as Commander in Chief, all the while having gays running around getting married, and trans people not living in the shadows where they belong, and Latinos from the Bronx being appointed to the Supreme Court, and black people getting fed up about cops shooting them all the time. It looks like it just all got to be too much for white people. They’ve snapped.
It’s like they’ve all gotten together and collectively are saying, “YOU MOTHERFUCKERS WANT CHANGE? WE’LL SHOW YOU CHANGE!”
So FUCK IT they say, build a wall to keep out the Mexicans who are the backbone of our agricultural industry and contribute in countless other to our country. And while we’re at it keep all the Muslims out too. FUCK IT, repeal Obama Care no matter how many lives it has saved and regardless of the fact that none of the fucks cursing its name have a more viable alternative to help those who can’t afford care. FUCK IT, lets make huge sweeping cuts to social security and welfare. Yeah millions of god fearing honest white people will be left out in the cold, but at least the minorities won’t be able to buy their drugs with our tax dollars.
And yea, FUCK IT, elect Donald Trump our next president. FUCK IT, bomb the shit out of ISIS and all of our enemies. FUCK IT we don’t care about economic policies, or failed business practices. FUCK IT, make Mexico or China or whoever the fuck finance our bullshit ideas. He can say what he wants or do what he wants because damnit, he loves America! Not YOUR America, THEIR America. And it’s gonna be fucking GREAT again.
FUCK IT ALL!!!
This is what’s happening in our country right now. There are no police in riot gear imposing martial law in the streets. No victimized store owners crying in front of their wrecked livelihood. No burning buildings to point at in horror. Yet somehow I can’t shake the fear that unless things change we will all be standing in front of the wreckage in a few years asking ourselves this one sobering question.
“Why would they do that to their own country?”
CAUSE FUCK IT, THAT’S WHY!!!