the Clash

Some thoughts on rioting, police brutality, other stuff

White Riot I Wanna Riot White Riot Riot of My Own

The Clash are one of the best bands ever, but let’s be honest, this line shows a lack of imagination:

Nobody wants to go to jail

There’s a lot worse things that can happen to people to riot.

Every time minorities get out of hand in this country there is a group of people tut-tutting about them rioting.  I… am going to be one of those people.  Because I don’t want to go to jail either for rioting or for urging people to do something I am not willing to do myself.  That being said, some of the criticism is rich, especially coming from white people.  Let’s be real, white people have rioted a lot, and a lot of the time, it worked.

Quick quiz:

What kept the Chicago Housing Authority from trying to integrate Chicago Housing Projects:

Hint: the Airport Homes Race ______s.

I’m just throwing that out there.

What about “black-on-black” crime?

What about you shutting your face?

No really, this is just something people say to distract.  But since I have the day off while I’m waiting for my car to be repaired, let’s answer this stupid question.

I grew up in a small town.  It was surrounded by lots of fields, miles and miles of them.  People sometimes lived “out in the country” i.e. between the fields, but for the most part people lived in town, because it’s convenient and because to build next to a field you usually have to own that field.  So there were all kinds of people living together, not really by choice, but because if you wanted to live in the area, you pretty much had to.  In a town of 5,000 or so there were some nice neighborhoods, some very nice blocks where upper middle-class people lived.  There were some not as nice blocks where lower middle class people lived.  There was a trailer park where poor people lived.  There was a housing project where other poor people lived.

The reality for black people is that, for a variety of reasons both historical and current, they live in neighborhoods with people with wider range of incomes.

“Blacks are segregated and even affluent blacks are pretty segregated,” says Logan, who analyzed 2005-09 data for the nation’s 384 metropolitan areas. “African Americans who really succeeded live in neighborhoods where people around them have not succeeded to the same extent.”

What’s my point here?  Like my town, black people are stuck living in places with a lot of poor people.  But I suspect that like in my town, they learned to manage that, to some extent.  If you lived in a nice block on my town, sure your house could get robbed.  And sure, your uncle could drink too much and decide to murder everyone.  That could happen anywhere.  But if you didn’t want to get in a random fight, you’d probably stay out of the trailer park, the honky tonk and would probably not park your car on certain blocks.  And if you didn’t want to get shot, you probably do that by not joining a gang or dealing drugs.

None of these are fool-proof, but they’re at least things you can control.  You can minimize your risks.  You know what you couldn’t control through your own personal behavior?  Police.  Because they patrol everywhere in town.  That’s their job.  So if there were a corrupt cop, he was everybody’s problem.

And the only way for a town to deal with a corrupt cop is for people to get together and petition town government to do something.  That’s what black people are trying to do in America- deal with corrupt police.