Couldn't Have Said It Better: Baltimore Riots 2015

Why context is important

Posted Apr 28, 2015

A discussion broke out on Reddit today related to the incidents in Baltimore last night, following the funeral of Freddie Gray: A twenty-five-year-old Black man, whose spine was severed and later died while in police custody. The conversation started in response to the a post made onr/blackpeoplegifs, titled: "MRW (my reaction when) Racist Comments Get Upvoted Across Multiple Threads." 

It is worth noting, that the subreddit r/blackpeoplegifs is usually more humorous than sincere; however, after browsing some of the comments, it seemed that many of the subreddit's Black users were feeling ostracized by the many other conversations related to Baltimore, police brutality, and race on Reddit: 

"BRUH... If it were up to reddit right now, we'd all be either in jail, dead, or heading back to Africa.   Trife."      -dl7

This was the top comment.

But the most impressive comment came from user "thebigbadwuff," who explains why some of the responses on Reddit and elsewhere feel particularly damning to Black Americans when considered in context: 

Look. Our culture is obsessed with the Revolution, right? One of the strongest political parties in America is dominated by an obsession over it, to point of naming itself after a key protest, the Tea Party. But the Revolution was a hotbed of rioting and downright deplorable violence. British sympathizers were systematically shunned, innocent civilians were assaulted and robbed, and I'm sure you recall the old stories of soldiers being tarred and feathered—essentially, burned, disfigured, and humiliated. Yet, when we talk about that kind of violence, we talk about context. We talk about history. We say that despite that ugliness, that our history began as a protest against disenfranchisement and manipulation, and that our revolution was not defined by these incidents.

But when Black people go through these same patterns in our protest against systemic injustice, we receive no similar consideration in the public sphere, particularly on Reddit. These people aren't struggling, often unjustly in their methods, against an unjust system. They are not a just uprising, marred by vicious outliers. They're thugs. They're animals. They're "proof" of why Black culture itself is responsible for the injustice acknowledged by even the President of the United States, and why Baltimore deserves to burn. If I had a nickel for every comment not only wishing death on these people for stealing twinkies, but the protesters tangentially associated, I'd be rich enough to start my own mod-monetization scheme. So that's why I hate the comments about the riots. Because sure, riots suck. But there's riots on a regular basis in the NFL, the NBA, and the world's futbol leagues, and somehow those are comedy segments. "Distraught" fans, opportunists, and fools. Somehow they exist in a world of context, and we don't.

I couldn't have said it better myself. 

Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons