Sunday, March 02, 2008

Quiet Riot.

I read an interesting article from Harold Jackson, a man who is fast becoming one of my favorite newspaper writers. He wrote about a new kind of riot today in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and I liked his analysis. It's not the first time we have heard about this new type of rioting among black folks. Barack Obama talked about it while on the campaign trail to become president as well.

Mr. Jackson wrote about the riots of the sixties and what fueled them. The statistics he gave were revealing: 160 riots in 1967 alone, eighty people dead (mostly in cities like Newark and Detroit) and over 200 million in property damage. He argues, and rightfully so, that most of the black shopping areas destroyed by these riots never recovered. He also argues that conditions described by the the Kerner Commission Report which followed the riots, have not changed much in the forty years since.

Consider, in 2008, according to Jackson's article, the black unemployment rate is 9% while for white A-merry-cans it's 4 percent. 24 percent of blacks live in poverty compared with 8 percent of whites. Among black folks, 20 percent lack health insurance compared to 11 percent of whites. The median household income of blacks is $30,858, while for whites it is $50,784. And after giving us these grave statistics he poses this question: Why aren't blacks rioting now?

We agree on the reasons he gives for this as well. Blacks have been leaving the ghettos and poor inner city neighborhoods due to the growth of the black middle class. Because in a "less-depressing residential environment they see the possibility of a better future. Unfortunately, the ones left behind, have no such options. In the sixties the anger was aimed at "whitey" but it ended up hurting the people who were living in the neighborhoods the most.

Some of the people who are inhabiting these poorer neighborhoods today are still blaming whitey and the government structure that's in place. They are angry and disillusioned. But instead of taking to the streets and burning and looting stores, they resort to "vandalism, drug abuse, murder, and other crimes disproportionately occurring in low- income black neighborhoods." Mr. Jackson uses this quote from the Kerner Commission: "The frustrations of powerlessness have led some Negroes to the conviction that there is no effective alternative to violence as a means of achieving redress of grievances and of moving the system." I have news for the Kerner Commission, that frustration is still manifesting itself today. But the folks who would have been rioting back in the day, are now sticking up old ladies in the neighborhood, robbing neighborhood stores, and killing each other over perceived slights and and disses.

Neighborhoods are now in a crisis mode, and the situation is getting worse every day-- Just look at the Killadelphia Murder Count on my sidebar. There is also another aspect of this that Mr. Jackson forgot to mention in his article. White guilt. There was plenty of it in the sixties which probably led to LBJ's attempted war on poverty, as well as the "Great Society Efforts." That guilt is no longer there. Most white folks feel like the immigrants who dominate Northeastern and rust belt cities. "We don't owe you Negroes a damn thing, my forefathers never owned slaves. My great grandfather came to this country from Italy, Poland, [place any European country of your choice here] and wherever, and look at them, they made it. And they didn't have any government handouts like you Negroes do." So because of this white backlash it's even tougher on those who were left behind in the neighborhoods. Now the backlash has gone mainstream, and thanks to outlets like FIX NEWS, politicians who have made a career out of fear mongering and demagoguery; and an entire political movement which started with the fake ass cowboy from California, the riot has been forced to get even quieter. But make no mistake, the anger is still there, it's just on both sides now. And the folks on each side have no idea how angry the folks on the other side can be.

Mr. Jackson says a new "national conversation" is needed,and it will take a renewal of the one started by Bill Clinton to get A-merry-cans to recognize it. He also says that it will take a renewed effort by congress to try and erase poverty. I agree with him there too, but good luck. The people on K Street ain't lobbying for some poor schmuck in North Philly or South Central L.A. So I am afraid that poverty is going to be around with us for awhile. Because of that, I am afraid that those quiet riots will continue to rage through certain parts of A-merry-ca. And when that silence finally gets shattered, I think we all better look out.


Ann Brock said...

Field great article and according to Jackson's article, the black unemployment rate is 9% while for white America it is 4 percent. 24 percent of blacks live in poverty compared with 8 percent of whites.

With stats like that I really don't know what's holding us back from some form of violence against the establishment. Especially when you have a family that you can't take care of. Another thing that is adding fuel to this fire is Immigration.

Anonymous said...

I think it's even worse than you suspect, field. The white middle class is showing severe economic fracture lines, which means more anger there. And if the white middle class is starting to collapse, I'm guessing the non-white middle classes are in the same boat or worse. So, more people edging closer to the region of "poor" and more finger pointing (justified or not) in both directions. Those riots may not stay quiet for long.

Mac Daddy Tribute Blog said...

Great post, field.

Jackson says that unemployment for blacks is 9%. You know i'm a reporter for a black newspaper in Minneapolis. And I recently did an article about black unemployment. These stats don't point out the worse part of it. For example, unemployment among African American youth in metropolitan areas is around 30%. Also, when you take into account blacks who have given up on looking for jobs, black unemployment could be 15% of more.
This will give your readers a better idea. In 2003, New York City did a city-commissioned study on unemployment. It found that unemployment was high for black males for two reasons: 13,000 manufacturing jobs had left the city and because of employment discrimination. It said straight-up: Whites did not want to hire black males. Hence 49% unemployment of black males in 2003.

Yes, black folks are angry. But instead of robbing, shooting and killing each other, we should demanding that our so-called leaders be more aggressive for fighting for living-wage jobs and affordable housing. It's rough out here.

the poet Shazza said...

For anyone that would like a detail of the Newark "Revolution" in the 60's I would recommend seeing REVOLUTION '67. It is currently on sale and being shown across America. You can also check out the link for more info:

Now as for the Revolution which it should be called, was labled a RIOT by Whites because of their WHITE PERCEPTION that BLACKS had lost their minds and started burning their city without cause. There were circumstances that caused the uprise. and it was all about RACE.

The after-effects with laws, restructuring of communities, economics, politics has taken the radical ideology out of Protesting. The reality of
"uprising" today is considered Un-American, un-civilized and anti-social. The last time we got even close was in LA.

Also, people have realized that rioting in one's community only destroys any progress of change and economic growth. Places like Detroit, Philadelphia, Newark, Baltimore, DC still have signs of riot destruction which is more than 40 years ago. There is a reason for why the evidence still exist.

I agree that in a HOT BED of political and social injustice, an uprising is merited but it is a mindset that has to be changed. With the taint of possibilities and fraied opportunities planted in the minds of people (no matter what the ethnic background) there is always that thought that this can get better "if". Crumbs still feed the hungry. As long as they are continuously coming and sweet, people know more is coming. STOP the feeding and then the anger begins. Make people understand the difference between "crumbs" and "Real Food" and only then can you change the mindset.

One last point, what is the total population of Black People and White People? I say this because when dealing with statitics we like to use them in percentages but not the ACTUAL NUMBERS. 4% Unemployment for Whites might seem less than 9% Blacks but the actual numbers might be millions more than Blacks. Not that Unemployment should be compared as to who is more than the other ... but I like actual numbers and not PERCENTAGES. Theu speak LOUDER to the issue.

-D said...

Yeah, everyone smiled all nice in the 90's when the ship was sailing straight, now not so much. And like folks said, it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Good summation of ethnic white thought, pretty much on the money. Though, honestly, isn't white guilt just as counterproductive as white callousness?... neither is a sign of treating blacks as equals, just flip sides of the coin of blacks being regarded as the "other"... what do we do about the blacks, or let's ignore the blacks, pick your poison.

Anonymous said...

This economic climate lends itself to a sort of meanness that is expressed in through colorlines. Black folks are dealing with some structural inequality that is crippling. It is a helluva hand that is being constantly dealt and resorting to crime although is a short time gain it holds no possible solution for the future. I would love to see some sort of focus at a local, state, and federal level to address structural inequality. I am not talking about government handouts, but something has to give. Also, folks have got to exercise some values that are life affirming rather than the destructive tendencies that are so dominant right now.

Toure Zeigler said...

I think there are a lot reasons peoplare are not rioting. First and foremost, I think there are two Black Americas now, a legitimate middle class and a lower class. We're all not being treated the same one with one broad brustroke like in the 60's. For example, Wilt Chamberline lived in my grandparents neighborhood in Philly in the 60's because the burbs where still segregated. It didnt matter that he was infinately more rich than them. They both had the same struggle. But today? The 12th man on a ball team is in a different economic stratosphere than me.

The other factor is that I think a lot of young blacks feel that class is trumping race as far as disrimination. So that's another split in philosophy that could prevent people from uniting on the same issue.

As someone who studys city planning, I do feel the anger that a lot of people in hoods feel about the lack of oppurtunities and a fair chance but at the same time, if they do riot, what is it going to accomplish? Where at the point now where there is a total spatial mismatch of jobs and education foe American ghettos. The jobs that people who are unskilled could do and could work to pull themselves out of poverty and located far wawy from their neighborhoods with no public transit access to get them there. So they are trapped in a way. And once jobs and economic resources are put in place in the hood, a lot of times investors are looking for the new "it" neighborhood and they hood gets gentrified. In order to bring jobs back to places to where people need them, the strucutral basis of metropolitan regions will have to be rearranged and that will require a change of thinking to a lof or people's minds which is often hard to do.

Anonymous said...

I concur, but if there is going to be a riot, my money is on it being along economic lines more than racial lines. Where I live, there is now quite an economic disparity and a lot of people like myself fell from the middle class during the past seven years.

I see more people, even myself, getting angry because we don't have the jobs available to "pull us up by our own bootstraps". This is where the fight will be, if there is one.

On a somewhat related note, Ice Cube was right when he wrote the script for Boyz In The Hood. You can always tell where you stand by how many liquor stores are in your neighborhood. During the past seven years, I've seen a lot of them and payday loan stores sprouting up like weeds in a flower garden.

Christopher said...

As I've said before, I think Thomas Jefferson was correct when he said (and I'm paraphrasing badly) that, in order to keep democracy alive, a revolution is needed every 50 years.

We're far past due.

What ails this country is no longer a black v. white issue.

A smaller number of wealthy elites control a larger amount of the nation's wealth. Regular Americans are forced to pay their utilities with credit cards. Teachers are underpaid and schools are crumbling. If you get sick, even having insurance is no guarantee you won't wind up having to file for bankruptcy because your plan can disallow a pre-existing condition. Real wages have fallen each year the Motherfucker from Midland has been in the White House. Americans are medicated with meaningless sports scores and Hollywood gossip.

We need to tear it down, folks and rebuild it from the bottom up. If such talk is scary, then get out of the way because things can't go on like this much longer if this country is to survive.

The time to act is now.

Anonymous said...

You have touched in an issue that burns in my soul! And I think it is as much about class...
I agree with Shazza... look at the numbers.....
For example, every year, Parade Magazine (yes, a fluff blah little insert in the Sunday paper) does a little article called What American earns... it is very telling. They list about 120 people and I think they do a pretty good job of reflecting america. They list everyone from the lowest paid jobs... service employees, forest rangers,secretaries, house cleaners, to the low and mid level white collars, to the professional class, and then they add in a few entertainers and pro athletes, and then they add a few CEOs of major corps..... If you add up the actual numbers (which I did), this is how it plays out:
94 of the 120 earn $100 thousand or less and three fourths of them earn under $50 thousand. Only 6 earn between $101 thousand and $500, and only 3 earn between $501 and 1 million. 10 earn between 1 to 10 million (mostly athletes and actors) and another 4 earn 15 million to 30 million. Then there are the remaining 3 who earn over 30 million. But what is really telling is when you add up the dollars... That bottom 94's total is about 4.8 million annual salary dollars while the remaining 16 added up to a whopping 74 million annually! That is just flat out wrong. Remember when Bush said that challenging this was engaging in "class warfare?" Well, I say, Bring it On! We need to demand an end to the hoarding of wealth by the few... it is OUR labor that produces their wealth. It is OUR spending that contributes to their wealth, and it is time we tell them, "The World Can No Longer Afford The Rich."

Anonymous said...

Correction: I meant to say the remaining 16 make 174 million, not 74 million... which makes it even MORE outrageous!

Anonymous said...

Love your blog. I would like to ask you to reinstate the honorary status to Harry. He's a young and stupid lad with kinfolk that really wanted the Nazis to win. However, he did serve, unlike our homegrown Nazis or their offspring. Given time he may just do you proud.

Many immigrants came to the US to be brutalized in the corporate search for cheaper labor. Miners in Wyoming were shot like friends of Cheney. Italians during the Depression worked for the Mob. It was not easy.


field negro said...

Deacon blue I bet it is worse than I suspect,with all that the middle class is going through right now it can't be good for the folks beneath them.

Macdaddy,your stats are on the urban areas the unemployment figures are even more grim.

Shazza,in some places it was a revolution.But I wonder if folks would consider such an uprising today(among poor white and black people) a revolution.

Thinkaboutit you make a good point about dealing with the "structural inequality" from a local level. But that would take a strong political will, and sadly, most of these politricksters don't have that.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

Field, I'm tired of all this "talking" and "national conversations" about race. It is only to make "whitey" feel less guilt, and Blacks feel important without having to do the heavy lifting of self-analysis and to stop waiting for another Martin, Malcolm or Medgar to come along.

I've often wondered when there is a riot (and the 1992 LA riots come to mind here), why would Blacks destroy the businesses in their own neighborhoods?

Then, I read one of Dick Gregory's books, "The Shadow I Fear" and it explained everything.

The American system is set up to uplift certain groups of people, while keeping another set of people downtrodden. In a capitalist society, you have the "haves" and the "have nots", which explains why America fought so hard against the concept of socialism.

If you place a man in a dwelling, tells him to pay rent, but give him no investment or ownership in where he hangs his hat, he has no sense of ownership in that property and is more inclined to allow it to be subjected to decay, decline and overall neglect.

Because that dwelling is NOT HIS.

Those areas of downtown Philly you speak of, could easily be my hometown of Oakland, California. During the 70's, downtown Oakland was where you went to shop and hang out with your friends at the second-run movie theater, where you could see three movies for $1.

All the stores, like Needless-Markup (Neiman-Marcus), Gump's, I.Magnin and Liberty House, not to mention other businesses, were all in downtown Oakland.

The Mall concept came around '77 and decimated everything - Oakland turned into a ghost town. Only the advent of the Federal Building, and the moving of offices and businesses to downtown Oakland, because San Francisco got too expensive, kept it from fully going under.

The Black Middle Class in Oakland, which had a vibrant neighborhoods througout West Oakland (where I went to middle and High schools)turned into the ghetto, because the Black Middle Class fled from the Black working Class to the hills of Oakland, and the nearby suburbs.

The concept of investing in your neighborhoods fled with the Black Middle Class.

Now, Oakland watches in horror as former bad neighborhoods in West Oakland are becoming inhabited by White people tired of 40 mile commutes to work and are gentrifying like a MoFo out there, while Blacks are still whining about the White Man taking their shy't.

The White Man can't take anything away from us that we don't freely hand over in the name of making a fast dollar over long-term profit and investment. That is what we need to own up to - and start out from there.

Christopher Chambers said...

You see the wages of this in the final season of The Wire. Masterfully. Or in Richard Price's Charles Dickens-like books Clockers, or Lush Life. You don't see it in any of the stupid street fiction in the book stores.

I am sickened by our own inability to face these problems in ourselves before remotely having a "national conversation" among all Americans.

For now, as Richard Price says, the only thing cloaking the problem is real estate (gentrification and commercial re-development whilst more angry/poor/criminal colored people get pumped out into the burbs) and Giuliani-ism (rough tactics by the cops--increasingly with the support, rather than mistrust, of the public).

Frankly Field, the time is coming when the only choices for some of the folks in these communities is going to be Norplant and snipped vas deferins--and to paraphrase ChrisRock, I'll be the first one there with the scissors and the Depro. Call me a Klansman, but Jesus Christ...what to do?

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi FN,

I think African America has lost its collective focus. We have been led into faux fights with the likes of Don Imus instead of fighting our true enemies.

The NAACP and the Reverends have led us astray. We should be much further along than we are.

We need to have our own lobbies in Washington and at the State level. We need to have more organized political machines that hold politicians accountable.

It's time for a change of focus.

Anonymous said...

I think Shazza Nakim made a very important point. I'm not trying to diminish the urgency of our situation or the validity of the numbers, but you do have to take actual numbers into account.

If (and this is also debatable), we make up 12% of the population and try to figure out how many of those entail employable adults, I'd like to see the actual number of our unemployed compared to the actual number of whites.

With that said however, I do believe that we have the ability to incite change lies with us, can't wait for our leadership or government to save us. Let's re-institute the everyone grab one mantra. Donate your time and energy (and yes, sometimes money)to helping empower someone less fortunate.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe this country really wants real change whatever that may be. This is not about black and white but rich and poor. The fact that we quietly accept the haves and have nots as a consequence of a capitalist system and virtually destroy all attempts at making things more equitable for people speaks volumes about who we are as a society. We literally allow people to go through life with no real social safety net to depend upon and when someone falls through the cracks, we kick them down even harder. The rest of the industrialized world still can't understand why Americans don't see health care as a human right. The rest of the world can't understand why we allow the sheer poverty of some of our citizens to continue when we have the resources to fix it. Then we keep flagwaving about being the best country in the world while people go homeless. These rose colored glasses we have on and this ridiculous & quite embarassing hyperpatriotism we have is clouding our judgement. But we don't dare speak out espcially to the media because anyone who thinks differently, any one who doesn't like having a flagpole jammed up their ass till they shit red, white, and blue are seen as anti-american.

Anonymous said...

The way to reduce poverty is to inspire people to take postive control over their lives, like Barack is doing.

The problem with riots is you don't might not get the desired reaction.

Unrelated to above: Thirty years ago the clash recorded white riot. It was about whites in uk coming to the defense of blacks being abused by the police. Wiki white riot and see what you get.

Anonymous said...

Percentages are used to alter perceptions. 50 million people live below the poverty line. 24 percent of blacks live below the poverty line, 24 percent of hispanics live below the poverty line. In relationship to their percentage of the overall population that would equal appox. 22 million of those living in poverty. However, if were stated that more than 40 percent of those living in poverty are white, the perception would change dramatically. The truth is there are more unemployed poor whites in this country in straight numbers. Lies, damned lies, and statistics. Another distorted perception, just because 24 percent of blacks live in poverty, does not mean that the other 76 percent constitute a HUGE black middle class.

Anonymous said...

Worth watching,historian Nell Irvin Painter, talking about populist movement during the Gilded Age. It's relevant to this issue precisely.
Time for real movement, not faux movements.

the poet Shazza said...

You know, I love it when people interject the , "Take Positive Control" philosophy as if the book, "THE SECRET" and I would go as far as include "The Bible" have the mystical answers for overcoming PURPOSEFULLY PLACED BARRIERS before people. It also alludes to a viewpoint that people who suffer, do so because THEY are not living Right. SO NOT TRUE. More people suffer on this planet living RIGHT than living WRONG.

I do agree that a positive state of mind and positive steps do make for forward movement towards success BUT when a group of people (here and around the World) have to uprise and riot and revolt ... that speaks volumes to when things are more than a person's or group's spirit and behavior.

There are single parent women who struggle, farmers that produce, engineers that are layed off, elderly who are sick, children with excellent grades, people working several jobs and I can go on that all live positively and RIGHT and still can not get a break. Today there are more people Living Right and Positive and no matter how much religion and how many HOW TO BOOK, its just not working.

And no DISRESPECT but I am more concerned about what happens home than across the sea or on the other side of the World, the soup kitchens and the people who stand in line are in front of me. if I can do something to FEED THEM, I can then take what's left and feed others.

west coast story said...

Since we've established that burning down your neighborhood is a one way ticket to ghettodom, let's not encourage people to do that anymore. The only exception is the Rodney King riots and that's because what got burned was as much coroporate America as anything. The banks, the stores, the fast food chains, Koreatown, all came back. Much of the burned areas were in areas with solid middle class clientele. Oh, and nothing changed for black folks in LA.

White flight has been blamed for the poor condition of the inner city but I believe it has been middle class black flight that has been more damaging. That's not a guilt trip I'm running, I'd flee too if I could afford to. But the role models that were left have not been the kind to help people get themselves up and on their feet.

Also, the welfare system has been a way to keep people dependent for a couple of generations. I am probably the only black person in the US who welcomed welfare reform. I know that some people have been hurt by it, but it also kick started a bunch of folks. YOu can't have thousands of people sitting on their ass, letting their kids drop out of school, living on the margins of society, with no prospect of ever having or doing anything. We let these folks completely withdraw from the real world and provided no leadership for helping them stay on their feet.

Finally, about the crime problem. I just got through mobilizing some folks to contact the DA about a crime that occurred in my area. Not an outstanding crime as crimes go but sort of the last straw after recent brutal assaults and a murder in my neighborhood. Of the four that are still in custody, two are from the hills areas. I've been saying this since forever, but not all these bored brats are dispossessed, poor, strugging youth. Some of them are bad boy wannabes with irresponsible parents. The problem with our youth is parents. It's us. It's a shame that we blame crime on poor people because not only do middle class kids participate, because daddy or mommy is connected, these little shites get a mere slap on the wrist, if that. The crime that was committed sent a middle aged man to the hospital and I am not taking any prisoners on it. The idea that kids from the hills can slum in the flatlands and commit crime makes me sick.

We spend a nickel on education, we spend not nearly enough time with our kids, we make excuses for people who have children outside of marriage while they are too young and in no position to properly raise their kids, then we wonder why we have propblems with youth. This is a problem that crosses class and economic lines. If a kid is more worried about what the cops and courts will do to them than what his/her parents will do, then that's a problem. There was a time when you the last thing you wanted was to get in trouble and have your family find out about it. Now it's a badge of honor. We seem to have fallen in love with the badasses. There's something about middle class black men (and women) who look reverently at guys like Snoop and Tupac that makes me want to throw up.

(I like to remend folks of how one of Tupac's possee killed a little boy "by accident" and that nothing was ever done to him because Tupac and the possee kept mum. Years later, Tupac's name is still mud in some parts of Marin City.)

Sorry, waaay to long post.

Lola Gets said...

@Christian Progressive
Im familiar with Oakland too! I lived there til I was 14. You - and others - should come on over to my blog...Im having an Ask-A-Lolathon, where readers can ask me anything they like! Should be interesting...hehehe.


Anonymous said...

RE: There's something about middle class black men and women who look reverently at guys like Snoop and Tupac. Indeed there is. Once a person makes money they are held to a different standard. People who are millionaires have come to think they can call others on their behavior and cry "trying bring the black down" if they are called on that exact same behavior. As Malcom X said, we are the only people who have preachers and entertainers for leaders...

Anonymous said...

I think the civil rights movement left behind a group of poor black people. The riots occurred at the time during the movement, and the movement was on a downward turn. I think the middle class black academia and professionals did not put poor blacks into the equation. And before anyone sends me a message, I do not think that meant to leave a group of people behind and they had some insidious and nefarious plot. However, we must realize that the black community is not a monolithic group. In addition to having white flight, you also had black middle class flight as well, leaving behind the poorest of the poor.

Technically, the middle class is at best an ambiguous term and very unclear. There really is not a tangible definition and middle class is relative. With that being said, one thing is for sure, being middle class in this country doesn't mean very much and carries very little influence. I digress.

I think there is something to term quiet riot. What I see everything is sheer isolation within the black community. We have isolated ourselves from one another, and if you anyone us had to answer the question of how many people do you know that live on your block, most of us probably could not name 10 individuals. People are off to themselves stewing and allowing their sores to fester. Their anger becoming all consuming and taking our frustration of the individual within our promixity. The thought just occurred to me that if 20 million black people would give five dollars a month into a college fund, we would generate $1.2bn in a year, and send about 50,000 students to college for that year at $24,000 for each student. It's just a thought.

Carl (aka Sofarsogoo) said...

There are probably lots of reasons why there have been no recent Rainbow riots. (I don't apply the terms "black" or "white" to people, because doing so is wildly inaccurate, and it is a sign of laziness and habitual sloppiness in a person's thought, speech, and writing. If you prefer to be that way -- and the great majority of people, whatever their persuasion, do choose to be that way and to hang on to always idiotically saying, "black this," and "black that" -- then that is all your little red wagons. Just remember, folks, you heard it here first!)

One reason, paradoxically, is that, along with a dearth of leaders in the class of those in the great civil rights organizations of the 50's and '60's, Slick, Snick, and Core, today there is no general movement underway for such purposes as to try to hold on to what civil rights there are, or to create employment opportunities. The urban disturbances of those earlier times followed along perversely on the coattails of those far more legitimate activities, and in fact the word "riots" doesn't fully convey what those events involved. They were instead out-and-out looting and wrecking expeditions and nothing else.

If that wasn't your impression, then take another look at the outbreaks that occurred in dozens of cities directly following the assassination of Rev. King in 1968. Before that day D.C. had not yet been dragged down the garden path of ruin by the misguided with matches and clubs, as had happened in less enlightened burgs like Detroit, Newark, and New York City. Before April 4, 1968 D.C. arteries like U St., 7th St., and 14th St in N.W., and H St. in N.E. had been vibrant, mainly Rainbow communities. But after the shot in Memphis Rainbow mobs took advantage of a situation. It had nothing whatever to do with what King, Abernathy, and many others had for a long time been risking their lives and everything else to accomplish. Can anyone doubt that in fact, to react to King's sudden death in such a manner was exactly the opposite of the way he would've wanted it to be, and all the looting and burning was instead a gigantic blot on his passing and by extension on Rainbows in general. Grief, or a demand for equal rights, is oddly expressed by crapping in one's own bathtub, yet that's exactly what happened in my once beautiful city.

I no longer live in D.C. but when I left 14 years later, those important Rainbow parts of the city still had been only partly rebuilt. By contrast, I visited Hiroshima in 1959, also 14 years after that entire city had been almost totally wiped out by the first use of an atom bomb, yet the one and only sign that anything unusual had ever happened there was a memorial Peace Park in which the Japanese deliberately kept one denuded building, which had been at Ground Zero, in its wrecked state, most likely at large financial cost.

--I began to feel uneasy about the length of this comment before I could give the rest of my take on why there have been no large scale Rainbow looting expeditions in the cities lately. Sorry.

? said...


Myself coming from Youngstown, Ohio I understand the racial divide/distrust in the Rust Belt. My opinion is that Rust Belt states like Ohio and Pennsylvania are dying, slowly, but they are dying. This is obviously going to hurt black folks but there is so much more than the O man or any one is willingly to do to stop the economic collapse of the old industrial belt. If you look at most of the violent places in America they are
mostly in the Rust Belt. Flint, Youngstown, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Detroit, what do you think can or should be done?

field negro said...

carl(aka sofarsogoo), and west coast story, please don't feel bad if you think a post is too long. Come on now, you guys are dropping knowledge, and we have no problem with reading a few extra paragraphs. Thanks for sharing.

And I love that definition of what was taking place in the sixties, "urban disturbance".

"The thought just occurred to me that if 20 million black people would give five dollars a month into a college fund, we would generate $1.2bn in a year, and send about 50,000 students to college for that year at $24,000 for each student. It's just a thought."

hennasplace, tell me where to send my check.

"what do you think can or should be done?"

classical one, it's called jobs jobs jobs. More resources are needed to train folks to do these jobs that have become necessary for the 21st century. The old factory jobs are gone. Let's face it. Programs like NAFTA changed all of that forever. You can't compete with a guy making $2 an hour in a Third World country, you just can't.

All that money the frat boy sent to Iraq should have been used here to try and help these communities. They should have been trying to find ways to diversify their economies, and train their workforce.

Anonymous said...

Classical One,
I think a lot the South is on fire too. Places like Memphis, Miami, New Orleans, etc. seem just as bad as the old ecomony states. This is about 2 things really IMO, education and drug war. We're turning out these kids completely unprepared for any kind of meaningful work out of high school. Then a lot of them get involved with drugs, either through minor sales to support them or use get away from the despair. Once you have that felony record, its a wrap for you as far as getting a real job is concerned. Of course I live in NYC, a city with 2 million black people, and I can count number of young black men that I see communting to work in the morning. Where are they? It's like black men turn a certain age and they literally drop off societies radar. The Kerner commission was right when they talked about 2 societies, except now that it's come to pass.

Anonymous said...


west coast story said...

This article is being floated around Oakland in various groups. I won't go on about the politics of Oakland, crime, and economic development. And in fact, I wrote a big long post doing just that and deleted it. Oakland is a mess. Some people are working hard to make things better but it's hard when your elected officials are constantly working against you. I started a blog about some of the local stupidity but haven't had time to keep it going. Oakland is a really wonderful city with some oversized problems that keeps a dark cloud over it. Makes me very sad.

Anonymous said...

''The busyer you are the less you see'' people with credit cards & car notes to pay wont be in the streets people are simply doomed in america,the whole world hates us, every race.we better hope thier is a god up thier,but i think he hates us too.

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