Everybody Wants to Talk About the Riots

Photography from NewsWeek.com
Photography from NewsWeek.com

But not about what caused the riots in the first place. No, these riots are not substantially right when you look at it from the surface, not when buildings owned by people of the community are being burned, when cars are getting smashed and innocent people getting hurt by being caught up in the middle of it. More than half of these rioters are teenagers who are looting and destroying their own businesses and neighborhoods, and unfortunately, too large of a number of these rioters really are taking advantage of a situation in order to commit crime, but if damaged property disturbs you more than unarmed black people being murdered by the cops, reevaluate your priorities. Don’t let the media avert your attention to racial profiling again, and don’t let the rioters that are taking advantage of a situation also avert your heart from caring about the bigger picture of racism and oppression that is inevitably still an issue in this country today.

The media is fixated on showing the looters and rioters, and we have to remember who is one of the most powerful source is handling that agenda. The media is fueling the judgmental fire of every person who’s only opinion about Baltimore is their disgust and disapproval concerning the riots. No, I don’t think every person who is tweeting or voicing that “rioting is not the answer” is an expression of deeply rooted racism, most are definitely concerned and compassionate about the safety of the community, but there is a handful of individuals I can’t stand to see only have an opinion about Baltimore that goes along the lines of “Idiots, this won’t solve anything.” Because the people who share these thoughts, probably haven’t sat in a room together to talk about the inequality and unfair treatment of those in uniform have committed against the black population. Yet, their voice suddenly gets loud enough for all to hear when an opportunity comes forth to accuse black people of being unorthodox, irrational, idiotic and violent. Instead of using their heart and breath to speak about the injustice against black lives but rather the portrayal of the media of the rioters, and not even the peaceful protesters that they don’t show trying to stop their brothers from giving people like them, and those in uniform, more reason to avert their attention to the real issues. That’s my problem with people who want to talk about the riots, but not what caused them.

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This is a series of artwork by Ashley A. Woods for her submission of Artists Against Brutality book, with John Jennings and Bill Campbell. It isn’t just about Freddie Gray, it isn’t just about a handful of teenagers spreading violence and taking advantage of a situation, it’s about the injustices that have been committed against a community for centuries. Do not let the people around you just have opinions about what the media wants to portray, or their comparisons against Martin Luther King’s walk to the riots, get them to talk about the problem that still exists today despite MLK’s attempts to unify all of us and progression towards equality. Support the cause of seeking justice for there are some in uniform, not all, that have committed violence towards people simply because of their color. Support the cause of equality and love that you would think would be more evident and spread out today, but it isn’t, that much is seen just basing it off these YIK YAK tweets from John Hopkins University, a private uni in Baltimore.

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I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t let the wrongdoings of a few destructive crowds reflect the intentions of the entire cause, or reflect an entire race. Do not shame or applaud the riots, but recognize the issue and the peaceful protesters instead who were silenced and not covered by the media because of the riots. If the media would focus on the peaceful protesters, and the people trying to stop the riots, you would think that would really send the powerful message this community was initially going for, right? But instead, we are only shown the destruction. Do not call these teenagers thugs or animals or savages, not when some of them have grown up in a world where that’s all they’ve heard and been stereotyped as. While their actions are not justifiable, the message is. People can not call all of this “senseless” and “unnecessary”, this is a result of centuries of dehumanization and oppression. Support those who are trying to keep their city safe, who are standing in between the cops and crowds trying to voice their call for peace, realize the media has a specific message it wants its viewer to see. There’s even a new hashtag trending, instead of #Baltimoreriots it’s #Baltimoreuprising, and many are out there cleaning the streets, peacefully protesting and helping their community as I type. So send your love, prayers, to Baltimore who desperately needs it…not more hatred and uneducated opinions. People have never need or deserved that before, and people definitely don’t need or deserve it now.

Freddie Gray Protest in Baltimore

“It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

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