Let’s Start A Riot, Me and You.
Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it; history is repeating itself daily and deserves a more attentive audience.
Living in Southern California one can become used to certain things. The ground will randomly shake, usually just enough to slightly annoy. Gas prices will always be just high enough for other parts of the country to mock you. My favorite thing about Southern California though is the “Storm Watch” headlines every local news station will run the second there is anything above a 13% chance of rain.
Pictures of sandbags will flood the front pages of every small local newspaper, people will begin to reminisce about that one time it “Really Rained”, always conveniently just before the listener was born. The whole things is silly, based on nothing resembling a fact.
I had always chocked this sort of hype-baiting to the hollywood attitude most of Southern California embraces. This week, I found I was wrong. Maybe it is the result of being spoiled by instant everything that has lead us to the place where we need to instantly label everything. Maybe. Maybe not.
Let me tell you a story. Some folks got real angry and decided to call shenanigans on the status quo. Their actions lead to over 5 million dollars in damages. The above mentioned actions also lead to 140 injuries. 17 police cars were set ablaze. Countless local businesses were looted and vandalized. A number in the range of 1,200 criminal charges were filed.
Wait, you think this is about Baltimore? Come on, I am obviously talking about the aftermath of the Vancouver Canucks losing in the Stanley Cup finals back in 2011. After their team lost, a majority white crowd decided to light their city on fire and act the fool. Vancouver is often regarded to as an insanely affluent place to live and yet, riots.
What happened in Vancouver was an aberration. Guess what, so are the events in Baltimore. The difference is the narrative. What happened in Vancouver at the hands of some unruly Canucks fans (also, the Canucks suck, go Kings!) wasn’t reported as a riot but rather, unruly crowd behavior. I guess it makes sense, a bunch of good-hearted, caucasian hockey fans would never riot. Only those black thugs and hoods from places like Baltimore and Ferguson are capable of such atrocious behavior… You see the problem here, right?
If you live in Baltimore you have every reason to be pissed. In regards to undue force, the kind that cost Freddie Gray his life, the city is an absolute mess. In the past 4 years, more than a hundred people have won court cases directly related to the violation of civil rights and brutality. Some of those victims include a 26 year old pregnant accountant who witnessed a beating and a 65 year old church deacon rolling a cigarette. You know, thugs…
Of the thousands that gathered to peacefully remember Freddie Gray, only a small few took it upon themselves to cause unrest. The crazy thing is, the high amount of people want to keep the peace are not newsworthy, only the “thugs” are.
There is a narrative that is presented and it keeps being presented because it is what we want. We want “Storm Watch 20XX” because it justifies the fact that we can’t drive, or walk for that matter, when it rains. We want to see black people stylized as nothing more than thugs who will destroy the places where they live because it keeps us from ever having to associate with them. We want to brush over the actions of a few Canadian sports nuts because we know they really didn’t mean it.
Yeah, I went pretty extreme there. You know why? I needed to. The narrative we are fed won’t change until we stop throwing our attention and money at it. It is easy to sit and say, “boy, it is really bad over there.” The hard part is realizing that part of why it is bad is because we all just assume it should be. But hey, whatever fits your narrative.