I stepped onto an elevator at work today and caught the end of a conversation:
“…and now that they’re burning down the businesses in their own neighborhood, they’ll have to go even farther–with their hands out!…Hey, Ashley!”
I was ashamed of myself. In the trip between one floor, I couldn’t think of what to say to these caregivers. Yes, I work in a place where kindness is the norm and we treat everyone who walks in the door in need of help.
I couldn’t find my voice in that instant to call out what I had heard.
I saw the same comments on Facebook that you did, the ones asking, “Why are they burning and looting? What good will that do?” One commentor even stated, “White people didn’t riot when OJ was acquitted.”
Yes, yes we did.
The difference is, we had a nice safe place to express our rage. White people owned the media outlets. We raged and rioted on TV so much that we created the 24-hour news cycle.
That’s the thing I have learned about rage–it will be expressed through whatever means are available to you. If you have the microphone, the chair, the podium, there are plenty of outlets for your rage. If a stone is the only means of power available to you, you will use that.
A Palestinian boy doesn’t throw a rock because it is photogenic. A lone man doesn’t face down a Chinese tank with a grocery bag to be poignant. A furious man in Ferguson doesn’t tip over a car because a camera is there to capture the shot. Those are expressions of simply not being able to take it one second longer. Looking around for something that translates fury into power. And using it.
Do I think it’s right? Of course not. But sometimes it’s the only tool at hand.