THE PASSING OF RODNEY KING:
Heres What it Made Me Think:
With the passing of Rodney King, and the death of Trayvon Martin both happening the same year as the 20th anniversary of the LA Riots, I took time to pause and think, are we really willing to continue obliviously repeating history? Has our country truly made significant gains in racial equality? Or is it possible that the real problem lies somewhere underneath it all, in implicitly racist ideologies, both in practice and in preach? These incidents of racial tensions, and public outcry are not mere outliers, they’re statistical probabilities. America remains separate and unequal, where wage and race increasingly determine your ability to successfully compete, for that shrinking piece of the pie.
For those of you not already acquainted, Mr. King was pulled over for a DUI by LAPD, and after a tussle, left brutalized by police. Rodney King’s beating was so severe it required hospitalization for the injuries sustained. A spectator captured much of the encounter on video camera, eventually leading to the indictment of all officers (they were acquitted), and later settlement for Mr. King. I am not going to even touch on that event too much, or attempt to argue one way or the other,- just giving a very brief, brief. –
The important part is the rioting caused by the acquittal, was the result of years of racial tension left untreated, a plain another case of history repeats… There is something truly wrong when citizens feel they have no recourse other than violence to turn to in order to gain some sense of relief to their feelings oppression. Following the acquittal of the officers, at the hands of a mostly white jury in Simi Valley, outside Los Angeles County, these tensions finally came to a head, the City of Los Angeles burned for days afterwards, as citizens turned to violence for relief.
-AS the city was being burned and looted, rioters battling with police; Mr. King offered the famous quote, “Can’t we all just get along”, despite his beating from police.
The question we all still need to ask ourselves, is;
Despite what our high school history courses may have taught us (or not taught), nothing was completely overcome at the end of Ken Burns documentary. When the teacher turned back on the lights, inequality still exists. This nation is still grossly separate and unequal, and yes the word racism still applies. We sweep this stain under the carpet, away from prying eyes, where it seeps and it bleeds deep into the hearts of those for whom it is the cold hard truth of reality.
Why the history lesson you might ask?
I lead with a small history lesson, because the tension surrounding Trayvon Martin’s case is rooted firmly in the past. Racism and its existence, the United States personal boogeyman, is an unexplainable, indefensible and inexcusable blemish on a career supposedly built upon such lofty beliefs.
Freedom and Equality, Democracy for all.
The nation at large has hoodwinked itself into the greatly mistaken belief that civil rights was an issue of the past, when it gets brought up they act as if someone decided to be dealer of imaginary cards.
They must just be playing that almighty RACE CARD, as if it were an Ace upon their sleeve.
African-American and Latino youth are daily witnesses that all men are NOT created equal in the eyes of the law, as they suffer humiliation through racial profiling by a largely white police force which doesn’t share the hardships of their lives. Young men especially, live in constant reminder of the fact, regardless of crime, they are already criminalized in the eyes of many, law enforcement most of all.
Without fanfare, or much media attention, the United States has created a prison population more than double that of China’s, a nation more than thrice our size. Those who populate this new form of slavery just so happen to be predominantly Black and Hispanic, most for non-violent crimes.
-Oh Surprise, Surprise!-
According to the same Stanford study the upper right hand graph is from,
The incarceration rate in the United States has grown so dramatically since the 1970s that the U.S. now has one of the highest rates in the world. The rise in incarceration has been especially prominent among young Black males and high school dropouts. As shown in this graph, a full 37% of those who are both young black men and high school dropouts are now in prison or jail, a rate that’s more than three times higher than what prevailed in 1980.
Percent of 20-34 year old men in prison or jail, by race, ethnicity, and educational attainment, 1980 and 2008
Source: Western, Bruce & Becky Pettit (2010). Incarceration and Social Inequality. Daedalus, 139(3), 8-19
We have fallen back into a trap, losing touch and losing focus of a pure and simple fact. The people who founded our nation upon those hallowed principles, did it upon Black and Latino backs.
Without thanks, and without praise, the system repays them by still trying to hold their progress back. We all need to ask ourselves why we can’t be more like the late Mr. Rodney King? Instead of violence he turned to peace for relief.
Not only that;
Do we wish to go forward; or do we wish to go back?
Do we wish to see what form the next incarnation will take?
Who the next Rodney King, or Trayvon Martin will inevitably be; suffering death or bodily injury at the hands of needless harassment?
Most importantly, if we do, will the next time be as peaceful and as bloodless as the last (except the blood of Trayvon Martin, whose breaths that night proved to be his last.)?
Unfortunately there is a wealth of information out there to give credit to what I have said. I have provided some links below if you would like to learn more or would in some way like to get involved in reversing the blatantly racist justice system’s current path. Here is a contact list by state as well. Stanford University has also provided a list of proposals which are looked upon as pragmatic means of combatting the gross inequality existent today.
For those of you interested in rehashing the 1992 LA Riots;
Also, here is a really great article by Peter Wagner, complete with visual aid’s, debunking theStand your Ground as being anything other than targeted at minorities. http://www.prisonpolicy.org/articles/trayvon.html
More from me on the Trayvon Martin tragedy;
Please Comment if you know about any other initiatives or going on as well!
- Los Angeles and Rodney King 20 Years Later: Both Better, Not Perfect, But Better (time.com)
- “Can We All Get Along?” Looking With Kinder Eyes On Rodney King’s Words (newstalkcleveland.com)
- Rodney King: LA riots beating victim dead at 47: police (theprovince.com)
- R.I.P. Rodney King (rapradar.com)