“A riot is the language of the unheard”: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“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. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., March 14, 1968

Right now, I don’t have anything else to add to that.

(Oh, except this: My fuse on this one on is extremely short. I will not be tolerating bullshit that shows more concern about tranquility and the status quo than it does about justice and humanity.)

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“A riot is the language of the unheard”: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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4 thoughts on ““A riot is the language of the unheard”: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  1. 1

    It is the nature of oppression to create the means for its destruction.

    If people are pushed far enough the calculation that tearing down the institutions that benefit from their oppression becomes inevitable. He is still right. Condemning the rioters without also condemning the conditions that make it necessary is to ignore the root of the problem.

    The people on the streets of Baltimore are not the problem. What is being done to them is. We have two choices to explain what is happening. The first is that black people are just naturally that way. The second is that anyone who has to put up with the way they are treated would be doing the same. The first requires we claim they aren’t really human. The second requires we see their actions as fully human.

    Those of us who have trouble believing that the folks in Baltimore have good reason for what they are doing need to understand it is our lack of experience and empathy blinding us.

  2. 2

    Thanks, Greta. I badly needed a counterpoint to the Breitbart crap I’m seeing all over my Facebook. As usual, you found the words I needed to express my feelings, but could not find myself.

  3. 3

    Those of us who have trouble believing that the folks in Baltimore have good reason for what they are doing need to understand it is our lack of experience and empathy blinding us.

    Yup. The more I listen to/read the accounts of PoC the more I understand the rage they must feel. And even well-educated, White, Liberal friends of mine are littering FB with posts that focus more on condemning the protestors than on the root problem. With no awareness that perhaps the fact that they found a severed spine not worthy of a post but were suddenly outraged!!1! when (some) protestors got violent, tells a whole lot about the problem. 2014-15 has really opened my eyes to White Privilege. Partly because I’ve explored and learned about it but mostly because I’ve seen blaring examples every freakin’ place I look.

  4. 4

    POC are being killed by the police with impunity and nobody in power gives a damn. The Baltimore police pull kids out of school buses, leaving them no way to get home. People are protesting nonviolently and are met by police in full riot gear.

    Richard Daley said some forty years ago: “The police are not here to create disorder, they’re here to preserve disorder.” In Baltimore the police are creating disorder.

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