The Riots That We Care About

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., March 14, 1968

It’s been occurring to me that Martin Luther King wasn’t totally right. Riots aren’t always the language of the unheard. When white folks riot over sports events or pumpkin festivals, it’s not the language of the unheard. It’s the language of people who get heard plenty, people with a toxic sense of entitlement about being heard, people who never fucking shut up.

But who does the media and the culture clutch their pearls about? People who riot because they’ve been stretched way past the breaking point, who riot because they’ve been kicked and kicked and kicked and kicked and kicked and are fucking well kicking back? Or people who riot because they like to, because they think it’s fun, because they think the entire world literally belongs to them and is their toy to destroy if they want?

The Riots That We Care About

4 thoughts on “The Riots That We Care About

  1. 1

    There’s one very real reason people fear the former more than the latter. People look at the latter – rioting at sporting events or pumpkin fests – as youthful/drunken indiscretions that aren’t likely to metastasize and threaten their peaceful middle class existence. The former? They see a boiling over of anger with a cause and a purpose, and fear that this won’t be one night of riots in the vicinity of a sports game, but a thing that could persist and spread and truly threaten the status quo.

  2. 2

    Ganner @1: I don’t disagree with you, but I want to point out that the status quo ante of these protests was police officers regularly injuring, maiming, and killing civilians without consequence. Which makes it hard for me to understand why so many people see an overturning of that status quo as a threat.

  3. 3

    The status quo is comfortable and beneficial for many people. And, whether such a conflict actually exists or not, politicians and oligarchs protect their power by convincing people that everything is a zero sum game, that it is other relatively powerless people they need to fear and oppose.

  4. 4

    packbat – those who see the abandonment of the status quo as a threat are often correct, to a certain extent. The abandonment of white supremacy necessarily means the loss of white privilege. We do stand to lose. Whether what we’re losing is really worth hanging onto is a discussion for another day (spoiler: it’s not worth it), but there are many benefits, particularly when capitalism is concentrating artificial scarcities and increasing polarization between rich and wealthy.

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