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With the riots happening all over the country due to police brutality, with most recent being in Milwaukee, many choose this time to demonize the rioters instead of calling out the reason why they’re rioting. They have been labeled thugs, animals, criminals, etc. We see burned down stores and smashed windows, all out of anger. While even I don’t like riots, it has to be understood why it is happening.
When black people, or any oppressed group riot, it’s usually a response to the constant injustices they face on a daily basis. At a certain point, the people get tired of it. What else can they do? Their anger is justified. When every day another black person gets killed in the hands of police and there’s no accountability for it, that makes people naturally upset. Why do black people always have to stay silent in the face of oppression? This isn’t a new concept. America’s very independence was birthed through the fed up anger of the colonists.
Do you know that during the American Revolution, there were colonial riots? The people were tired of British control and mistreatment. That’s American history. I wonder if anyone said “What about colonist on colonist crime???” to shift the focus, or if today people shake their heads and shame them for rioting, looting, etc.
Do you know that there have been white people rioting over sports and festivals? They are never labeled “thugs” or “criminals”, or any derogatory term. Mainstream media is forever demonizing black people, and favoring white people.
I know a lot of people who are more upset with the damages done on buildings and not the permanent damages done on black people by rogue policemen. They are more furious about a CVS getting burned down than the reason why it happened. I am in no way condoning violence, but I’m also not unaware of the harsh circumstances that produced the violence.
I find it interesting that the same people who watched the Hunger Games and understand why the districts were rioting, are the same ones condemning the uprisings in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Milwaukee. All throughout the movie and book trilogy, the constant oppression that the people faced was too much to bear. When Rue, a young black girl, was killed in the games, the first riot began in one of the districts. Fire to the Capitol flag, destruction of buildings, Peacekeepers in riot gear. If I hadn’t known any better, that sounds like black people in America. Fire to the American flag, destruction of buildings, policemen in riot gear. But this is just a movie showing what happens when you harm a people for years and they finally get tired of it. It elicits a response, naturally. Did any of the fans blame the rioters in the movie? Or was there a clear understanding because of the depicted frustration all of the districts went through everyday?
And of course, we will get the pathetic mentioning of Martin Luther King Jr, in order to silence black people. “Dr. King would be so disappointed!! He would disapprove of these thugs!” I think the whole “nonviolent MLK” has gotten to people’s heads to the point where they revive his dead body in order eradicate his “radical” ideologies in favor of a white supremacist rhetoric. He said in 1966, “A riot is the language of the unheard”. America, you are not listening to us. Instead, our anger is used against us in order to further demonizing us in our frustration. Black people who have rioted are not thugs. They are not criminals. They are not animals.
Police have been brutalizing black people for years. I have been ignorantly told that “White people are killed by policemen all the time and they don’t riot.” Well that’s probably because
1. They are not being disproportionately killed by police like black people and
2. They are not in any position of oppression where the police aids in a systemic supremacy against their entire race.
Trust me, if white people were in our condition, they would have burned this country down without hesitation years ago.
(Follow Nzinga Muhammad on Twitter @QueenNzinga13)