Real Talk: Riots and Hypocrisy

It’s been a while since my last post saying that I would be writing on this blog more frequently…but hey, I was busy.

Unfortunately, I have not returned because I wanted to write about something light and fun. Instead, I’m angry and frustrated and I needed a space to rant. And this is my blog so where else would I do that, right? And this might not be as articulate or exhaustive as it could be. I don’t care.

The thing that angered me is the Baltimore riots that are happening right now. To give some context, the riots started after the funeral of Freddie Gray. Gray was a 25-year-old black man who was severely injured when he was arrested and taken into police custody on April 12th. Somehow (I use this word because the evidence of police brutality has not been completely released yet. But let’s be real; the police officers probably beat him.) he suffered a severed spinal chord injury while being detained, was denied adequate medical attention and died shortly afterwards.

Okay, so first of all, this is only one case in a really really long list of black people experiencing police brutality. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, John Crawford are a few that I can list off the top of my head, but I guarantee you that this is not something new. This has been happening for so long and there are so many victims of police brutality against the black community that at this point, if you don’t believe that this is a real problem, I don’t know what else I could do to convince you. You don’t even have to believe that this is racial issue, but rather an issue of police culture. I would say that you’re only partially right, but hey, at least you recognize that something is very fucking wrong with this country right now.

But back to the riots. So after the funeral, people were understandably upset and there were protesters who were calling for justice. Justice which, by the way, had been denied to countless numbers of black men, women, and children. The protests were not just about this one tragic death, they were about the systemic oppression and the fact that black people are not being treated like human beings throughout the United States. They were extremely frustrated and angry and rightfully so.

All of that bottled up anger and frustration eventually turned to violence and looting. The protest became a riot. Cars were overturned, buildings were smashed in, stores were looted, people were attacked, fires were started. You look at the violence and you can’t help but wonder what the point of it is. Many people looked at the riots and were saddened or angered by the violence that occurred because it doesn’t seem to add anything to the conversation that needs to be had. It seems like a bunch of selfish people who were looking for an excuse to steal shit and they finally got it.

And okay. I get that perspective. I really do. I happen to think that riots happen for a reason and that there have been many times in history where riots and violence had to happen for there to be any change. For example, the Stonewall riots in 1969 were crucial in sparking the LGBTQ movement until it was at the forefront of social justice issues at the time. Riots call to attention problems that would otherwise be ignored or have been consistently ignored for a very long time. Others have explained the benefits of riots better than I have here and here.

Are riots the best solution? No, I don’t think so. But sometimes, they can seem like the only solution. Do I approve of the violence happening in Baltimore right now? No. That’s not to say that I don’t understand where it’s coming from, but no, I don’t like violence. So again, I understand that perspective that a lot of people seem to have.

But here’s the issue. The thing that makes me angry is how FUCKING HYPOCRITICAL many of those people are. If you condemn riots, fine. But if you’re going to do that, you’d better condemn ALL riots. Where was all the uproar when a majority white crowd in Huntington Beach rioted, fought, and looted after a surfing competition? A fucking surfing competition. What about the Vancouver Stanley Cup riot in 2011? At least 140 people were injured, including nine police officers, not to mention the sheer amount of property damage that occurred. All this over hockey. Fucking hockey. You want more examples? Here.

The thing is white people rioting isn’t that rare. It happens all the fucking time, but nobody gives a shit. People get injured, stores get looted, fires get started, and guess what? Almost all of those riots are because of sports. SPORTS! Here in Baltimore and in Ferguson and other such riots, the riots happen because the people are fucking tired of being treated like second-class citizens, because the community is constantly under attack by the people who are supposed to be protecting them, because the systems of power that are in place don’t allow people of color to breathe. The violence is deplorable, but in this context, it’s at least understandable.

But look at all these riots caused by white majority crowds. They’re about sports. Let me say that again. THEY’RE RIOTING BECAUSE THEIR TEAM FUCKING LOST A GAME. These people actually have no valid excuse for being angry and frustrated enough to flip over cars and smash in store windows. They aren’t living under the constant fear that they will be the next one to die because they moved too fast or too slow or held anything in their hands or put their hands in their pockets or wore a certain type of clothing or decided to pick up a toy gun in a toy store. They aren’t living in a world of systemic oppression that the people in power constantly deny that exists. No. They just lost a game.

And yet, we aren’t calling these people thugs or uneducated animals, but rather just drunk people being a bit rowdy. We aren’t talking about how white culture perpetuates violence and how white culture must change because clearly white people get violent over the most arbitrary of reasons. We aren’t doing that because it would be fucking stupid. So stop doing that with “black culture,” whatever the fuck that means.

The point is that if you’re going to criticize the riots in Baltimore and Ferguson, you also need to criticize all of the other riots that have happened. And you should also recognize that there are reasons for the riots in both. It’s just that the reasons for the latter are fucking idiotic.

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