After much deliberation, I decided that I needed to take a formal stance on the subject of the many riots that have occurred during the past year. While this may not be a fitness related post, I felt as though this was a more optimal route rather than jumping into a sea of Facebook comments, only to have my point of view taken out of context, leading to a war of keyboard weaponry.
In order to avoid any confusion, I am white. I truly do not know what it is like to grow up in an impoverished community. I don’t know what it is like to grow up in the middle of seemingly endless crime while living in a society that often condones it. I don’t know what it is like to not have loving and supporting parents, which while also can be the case for white people, seems to be all too prevalent in the black community. I don’t know what it is like to have police officers wrongly (or rightly) accuse me of a crime and use unnecessary force in order to have me comply. In essence, I don’t know what it is like to experience discrimination. Further, I don’t know what it is like to be black.
Let it be known, this isn’t a public service announcement to say, “Don’t break the law, and you wont get arrested!” Everyone knows that. This is more of an assessment of this terrible situation that seems to be picking up steam. No one is denying that these riots are doing more harm than good. Further, it is undoubtedly pushing the white and black communities further apart, creating more racism. On the black side, we see rioting. On the white side, we see rednecks wielding assault rifles, burning buckets of kfc and pouring out grape soda. While you may have laughed at that last sentence, it’s a real thing and it only increases the divide between these two communities.
The biggest problem is that as of yet, these riots haven’t shown up in many communities. But if they continue at the rate that they are, it WILL happen in yours. People may think it is out of the scope of capabilities, but we are on a fast track to somewhat of a civil war and it needs to stop.
Are police officers to blame for this situation? Maybe. Was Freddie Gray a criminal? According to every source I’ve seen, yes. Was Freddie Gray taken in to custody for having a weapon, which may have prompted force by said police officers? Maybe. Did the police officers use unnecessary force? Maybe. These are all questions that I’m guessing a good majority of those rioting in Baltimore didn’t ask before taking to the streets. What I’m guessing happened was a diffusion of responsibility. For those of you that don’t know, that means that as individuals, we lose the feeling of responsibility during situations if we are in the presence of others, specifically, in a crowd. That’s what has happened in Baltimore. People have lost sense of responsibility, which has been acquainted with a loss of moral judgment.
The black conversation needs to happen. I can’t speak for others, but I certainly hear the black community. I think it really sucks that people have to live with discrimination when it’s a seemingly pointless tactic. Do I sometimes become fearful when black individuals approach me? You betcha. Now before you go on a rant about how I’m a racist asshole, hear me out. That fear is prevalent due to association with events such as what’s happening with Baltimore, inaccurate media portrayal, and the lack of personal exposure to black individuals. Throughout my short life, I’ve experienced black individuals whom were unpleasant to be around and also black individuals who became pretty good friends of mine. I’m sure that the same can be said for black people’s experience with white individuals. Either way, one individual doesn’t paint the picture in either direction. I’m a big believer in respect. If I’m given it, I will reciprocate. If I’m not given it, I won’t actively let it be known that I’m not given it either, but I won’t go out of my way to associate with that person. Further, this goes for any race that I associate with because I’d rather give people the benefit of the doubt, since I would like to receive the same.
In all honesty, I don’t have a solution to this problem. All I know is that the black community does need to be heard. Is the way they are going about this the only way that conversation will start? I don’t think so, but it clearly has already started. We can’t change what has happened, but we can surely prevent it from happening again. Violence and looting certainly isn’t the answer and I have to believe that those participating know that as well. Black people are just that, people. No better or worse than any white person. They have a voice that is certainly speaking and it needs to be heard. How will those voices be answered? I don’t have an answer to that, but it certainly shouldn’t be answered with an increase in racist tendencies. This isn’t a “lets hold hands for peace” announcement. Black people and white people are different. That’s never going to change. However, that difference should be celebrated. The whole reason that people travel the world is to experience culture different from they’re own. Black and white factions have differences that should be embraced, rather than discriminated against. Every race, country, individual has skeletons in their closet, but that shouldn’t be the crux of our opinions on each other. Either way, the riots need to be stopped so that we AS A COUNTRY can figure out a reasonable solution to the racism problem. If we don’t I fear this will turn into much more than just riots trending on Facebook.