White Americans Make Riots Happen


The first thing many, maybe most whites will do is deny we have any riotous involvement. How could we be the cause when whites are hardly ever seen rioting? Yet likely there have been infinitesimally few riots where whites were not the central cause. While Ku Klux Klan type white supremacy was often an instigator, it is the larger white supremacist cohort (see image), which includes most white Americans throughout our history, that has created the greater context, the massive matrix of unlit matches you could say, especially today. 

Even when riots "instigated" by blacks are included in our rioting history, white structured society would be the true culprit of our significant riotous past, our very recent past as well. The evidence to support this claim is infinite, and begins below.

The definition of the term riot can be narrowed down to limit the political formations of violence to exonerate state violence, or violence by preferred citizens. Instead I define "riot" to be appropriately inclusive: when a non-familial group, often more than 10 people, with a political element embedded in it, injures or kills one or many people, and/or confiscates, damages or destroys property in a public manner within national boundaries, often when law enforcement/local authority is present in some capacity. 

Political in this framing relates to two or more groups vying for more power over their circumstances, and/or over others. Therefore, revolts, some political disturbances, and internal wars are also riots. I exclude the wholly sports/celebration activated rioting, clandestine bombings, lone wolf violence, and secretly planned terrorist attacks by small fringe groups.

Within this essay, I provide some highlights of the evidence to support my claims, with in-text links for additional information. While my online research was not exhaustive, what I discovered, and have written paints a more honest picture of our riotous history, and our racial focus as white Americans, that is different from what most of us were taught. 

Many will still deny that our history beyond a decade back, let alone two centuries ago, has anywhere near a direct connection to what the recent riots, or even peaceful protests, are about. However, there is no part of our history where racism has not degraded the lives of many black Americans to the point of desperation. Still a considerable portion of systemic racism webbing is firmly enmeshed in our current psyche, policies, and white culture.

Do more blacks today live better lives than 50 or 100 years ago? Of course. But statistics of harm stubbornly hold on in so many cases that only a white supremacist apologist is able to create a colorblind scenario that puts blacks anywhere near the same starting line with whites, especially in aggregate terms. Yes, there are many anecdotal bootstrap examples of black Americans rising out of very challenging circumstances, but not at nearly the same percentages that whites are able to achieve.

One big ask about riots is, do they accomplish anything positive? Here I note a few instances in our long history of rioting that seem to have positive outcomes. Rioting and mob violence happened in NYC against the Stamp Act (1765), and looting and property-destruction rioting in Boston against tea taxes (1773), part of creating a new nation. Mass rioting ended slavery. A riot in Richmond meant women, moms and children did not starve in the 1860s. 

Almost a hundred years of rioting achieved better pay and safeguards for workers, even in Minneapolis where white workers rioted for their rights. Rioting even meant more drag racing opportunities. Should we riot every time we want something? No. But from my short list above, the rules do seem to be wide open. That said, no revolution helps everyone; no riot is good for every rioter. And finally, whether it was the right thing to do, and/or had positive effects, is often left up to posterity.

Of these 200 odd riots or revolts of significance or prominence that occurred from 1765 to 1960, including slave revolts, nearly all were caused directly by the actions of white people. In that 200 number I do not include most of the 6,500 or more lynchings of black Americans since 1865, during Reconstruction and Jim Crow. While most such lynchings fit into the political definition of a riot, the horrific quality and quantity of those events demand their own category.

While there were many slave revolts, especially near, and during our Civil War, most between 1783 and 1861 were quashed in a very swift, and devastating manner. Of course few people today would blame blacks for revolting against their own enslavement.

But why would you not blame black slaves for their oppressive predicament, if you blame blacks for their current oppressive predicament, and the riots in their communities today? Did not rioting remove oppression that began our national story? What can a group do when it is oppressed, and its power is structurally restricted? If working the system is tortuously rigged, and seemingly fruitless, how long do you put up with it? Is taxing without representation as oppressively onerous as mass incarceration? 

Are redcoats and slaveowners any different than brutal, tax collecting police in Ferguson, and white supremacist judges, juries and jailers? We must unpack these contradictions as to the black experience in the United States, and whether oppression can legitimize any amount of riotous violence today.

CAVEATS: Civil disobedience, and large peaceful protests may in some cases involve riotous behavior, but are not necessarily "violent enough" to fit my definition. Think pushing, shoving, etc. This is not to say that non-violent civil disobedience and protests may work better in many, most or every case. Rioting is the worst, last resort that can obviously backfire. 

Some peaceful protests that turn into riots are due to bad actors showing up specifically to do violence for violence sake. Peaceful protesters may commence rioting, after "taunting" by police, or counter protesters. Tear gassing and pepper spraying often can be considered rioting by police since it does have a political element. 

However, the outsider agitator trope must be very seriously investigated before it is used since that has in the past been the way politicians would dismiss the concerns of the local people who protested, whether or not rioting occurred. Something like:"No resident is unhappy with how we do things. So it must be others causing these disruptions." 

Lastly, the rioting examples provided are in a range specific enough so as not to overwhelm, or muddle the category. They are beyond protesters walking a few miles holding signs and loudly chanting slogans, then going home, or that one dumpster fire "riot" scene, and are not focused on non-political, criminal violence.

In this essay I am not focused on dissecting riots, or determining why a peaceful protest becomes a riot, but the fact that riots occur at all. Why does a "great" nation have riots, and especially so frequently do black Americans play a part? Would a "great" nation have such riots so regularly, multiple riots per decade since our founding? 

If riots are caused by identity politics, whose identity is causing them? If riots do not solve anything, why have both whites and blacks done their share of rioting? And if both blacks and whites riot, how could a very high percentage of riots be mostly the fault of one group?

First I consider a case where rioting seems to be missing any political statement. The NYC blackout riot of 1977 could be termed the worst multipoint looting, and property destruction riot in the United States, where violence against individuals was almost non-existent. Many POC participated in that looting and destruction. However, the 1910 riots after Jack Johnson won the world heavyweight title, showed how whites also display such wanton behavior, and much worse, including at least one lynching, and dozens of other murders. Not much colorblindness going on there. 

That said, what is gained, or lost, in each specific case? After the 1977 riotous activity ended, black Americans were not oppressed much more as a group, but those who looted an item gained at least something. The 1977 event showed the stalemate "benefit" of the 1960s civil rights movement. Blacks had more protection from the federal government after 1965, so the consequences of bettering their lives in some way, even a riot, was not met with the vicious, and indiscriminate attacks of murderous white mobs like in 1910, or many other unprovoked attacks. 

In the Jack Johnson riots, white mobs gained more power, and/or reasserted their supremacy. The power elements, and the state allowed oppression, are both political/social constructs, which removes criminality as the salient cause in both cases. In a riot, criminality is in the political/social construct eye-of-the-beholder.

“No event yielded such widespread racial violence {Jack Johnson riots} until the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 58 years later.”
– LBJ biographer's Geoffrey C. Ward pointed out.

White on white riots were all too common especially before 1960. Some were even considered racially motivated, which meant anti-southern Europeans in this case. For example, in 1909 the Omaha Greek Town Riot had the Irish attacking Greek immigrants who they considered a "filthy menace". Also attacked were Italian and Romanian immigrants who were mistaken for Greeks. 

Most of these riots had to do with white workers competing for jobs––aka strikebreakers––and a high percentage of those riots were unions versus management. And the Nativist Riots of 1844 in the City of Brotherly Love, pitted white Anti-Catholics against Irish Catholics. 

Also in 1838, an organized mob attacked a Mormon community in Missouri, massacring 18 unsuspecting white men and boys. So who has been the greater riotous menace in this nation by many orders of magnitude? It looks like whites of European ancestry deserve that award.

"Greeks are a menace to the American laboring man – just as the Japs, Italians, & similar laborers are." – Omaha Daily News

If my whites-of-European-ancestry answer seems oversold, here is more. The 1919 Red Summer Riots were in over 36 cities, instigated by white supremacists. These terrible attacks killed hundreds of people, mostly black. In Chicago, whites burned the homes of more than 1,000 black families. The worst riot was in Elaine, Arkansas where over 200 blacks were killed; five whites died. Then, in the early morning hours of June 1, 1921, Greenwood was looted and burned by white rioters". 

Over 300 black residents of Greenwood, which was adjacent to Tulsa, Oklahoma, may have been murdered; 800 people were injured. The remaining black families were driven out of town. Greenwood black residents were some of the most wealthy people in Oklahoma, wealthier than all other races.

On the bizarre side of our white ancestry violence epidemic is the 1922 Straw Hat Riot that lasted eight days with many physical injuries, and stolen or destroyed hats were the result. In the 1920s we became fully commie cockeyed. A decade later we were attacking our own military veterans in the Bonus March on Washington. Army Chief of Staff, Douglas MacArthur was convinced that the march was a communist conspiracy. Such are the ravings of a people with a moral compass pointing towards idiocy, ignorance, and fever dream indoctrination

Yet for centuries, white Americans have gotten away with the most exaggerated sophistry, whether it was red, race, religion or xenophobic baiting. The Zoot Suit Riots were a perfect combination of white supremacy and war hysteria. Though much has improved, we see aberrant behavior building up against POC who wish to enter/have entered our country, and Muslim immigrants due also to their religion. This shameful, repetitive, Pavlovian racism and jingoism must shed its thickest and ugliest layers for good.

Why are any of the riots noted in the previous paragraphs no longer occurring for the most part? To a large extent, we have diminished the most confrontational aspects, and at best resolved those issues. 

More recent riot flareups with a white majority have been very sporadic riot-sized violence associated with the environmental movement, and more with recent iterations of white power groups, but majority, white-group violence has not returned to anywhere near the violent disturbances of workers' rights conflicts, or vicious white supremacy actions before 1965, or the anti-Vietnam war rioting that occurred for nearly a decade after. Although the bottom 70 to 80% of all Americans as well as those concerned about global warming may have much to be up in arms about today.

One example where riotous violence provided a minority with a small but more obvious advantage is the American Indian. While natives were massacred by whites in significant numbers in our first century, there was some reciprocation before every tribe was forced onto reservations. That power, though much weaker than whites, made it possible for natives to "end up with" much more land than black Americans.

There was a major pivot in the nature and formation of riotous activity in the early 1960s as the civil rights era grew stronger, and provided additional freedom for blacks to expand their influence. This is when the concept of race riots turned to being "considered" mostly blacks against others rather than instigated by whites as a group against blacks, or other whites. 

The political/social impetus for riots still puts more weight on white Americans because riots are political actions. While those lacking legitimate political/social power riot, and the ruling group riots when believing they must reassert power, those who power and control politics can prevent both kinds.

Few if any riots can be more directly associated with black Americans unleashing anger on "blameless" others; Crown Height Riots, may come close, although more political than the 1977 NYC riot. The 1992 Rodney King riot did involve attacks on Korean businesses, but the conflicts with Koreans was not the main reason for the rioting, although likely a tangential issue

One group is much less likely to target another group for "political" reasons if both perceive that their circumstances are generally similar. Most white Americans are no longer predisposed to racist rioting as they were over 50 years ago. Still problematic, yet fewer in number today comparatively, is the aggrieved white supremacist, who particularly detest blacks they perceive as getting, or having more advantages, or even blacks who have a similar circumstance to theirs.

There are many reasons for modern day race riots, from 1960 up to now. Sadly our penchant for perverted incrementalism and procrastination is currently summed up by a 53 year-old presidential commission. It details our long-standing, keep head-in-the-sand racism predicament. The 1967 Kerner Commission report noted racist housing segregation, substandard educational resources, lack of jobs, and police brutality as the major causes for unrest in black communities. (I add to the list below.) 

When the Kerner report was released, again white backlash was the main result. No one was immune from it, not even the president at the time, LBJ. He was angered because he felt black Americans were not appreciative enough for "all the things" he had done for them just a couple years before. The police also did their normal "never blame us" freakout. Many politicians from the right saw it as an absurd power grab, and the left as an unrealistic policy ask by blacks.

Yes, white Americans were out of sorts again. Like we would be after every subsequent bout of unrest in black communities. It was, and is, always another "We can't handle the truth!" cross examination, or we conveniently forget the voluminous evidentiary past, senior moment.

Here I consider the riotous behaviors of the police component. That police officers never have, or hardly ever have, triggered or enabled to a riot is ahistorical. Police were specifically cited for inciting a riot in 1988 NYC, at Tompkins Square Park. The NYPD stood by during the Hard Hat Riot in 1970, when construction workers severely beat many Vietnam war protesters. Another riot by off-duty NYPD officers was allowed by on-duty officers. Ironically their cop-on-cop violence occurred after being angered by Mayor David Dinkins' proposal for a civilian commission to investigate their misconduct. 

These are not isolated incidents, law enforcement often stood by as rioters attacked blacks, damaged or destroyed their homes, and as lynchings occurred in the south and the north especially before 1965. It should be remembered that our early history of American policing is based on chasing down, and apprehending runaway slaves, called slave patrols. Some think this makes modern day policing predisposed to brutality against POC. Current evidence is not nonexistent to prove that point.

From 1980 in Miami where the police beat a black man, Arthur McDuffie, to death and lied about it, to Rodney King, Michael Brown in Ferguson, and George Floyd, all the subsequent "riots" have had some aspect of police instigation with a white backlash. For example, leaving Michael Brown's body in the street over four hours was a major flashpoint. Although the police are responsible for many of the sparks that put the riots in motion, and turning peaceful protests towards violence, or tangential elements in their beginnings, police brutality does not construct most of the tinderbox. 

There is more involved than police misconduct; a bone-dry forest of systemic racism, and a volatile tinderbox filled with a bramble of racist policies. Much can be hard to disentangle, but the idea that there was no valid impetus for blacks to riot, and there was nothing oppressing them at the time, is graphically inaccurate. Brutality by police is the match to the kindling of desperation. That said the underlying factors do not absolve police of their protect, and serve responsibilities; the match lighting can be reduced significantly.

"While the absolute number of people with felony convictions increased threefold between 1980 and 2010, it increased fivefold for blacks during that time." – Pew Trusts

Riots happen for a reason; they are not a spontaneous form of inexplicable community self immolation. Even riots after sporting events have their genesis, and there are precautions that can be taken to avoid them. When those precautions are lacking, the society bears the brunt, the costs, and the responsibility for correcting them. Jailing participants is reactive, and has never solved such problems. It punishes the current participant; it does not curtail future activity, otherwise every type of riot would happen just once. When the stage is set for failure, it is the dominant social force, or ruling society doing that is at fault. Calling rioters "animals", bad seeds, or some other metaphor of the racist ridiculous is society ignoring its responsibility to the people. People seeing no major problems effecting them, and for the most part enjoying their lives, are not rioting in the streets. White Americans, prevent such underlying problems from occurring, and you have peace in the streets.

"If we want a lowering of the hostility between police and young African-American men, we need to take steps to desegregate." – Richard Rothstein

The production of any bad apple police is society abdicating its main role: protecting its people. The hiring and deploying of such apples is society readying a barrel full of brutality. Their presence and actions are evidence of our society's failure. Their absence from the black community, most cops living elsewhere, is evidence of a foreign occupying army, aka Hessians. Such dominant society bias also permeates color lines, and racial color can be subsumed by dominant work culture bias, the blue line. Why should a black American not riot to remove, defund or abolish that threatening culture?

King George, III failed in the colonies because he did not care about all of his people, in our case the colonists. He did not see the changes society needed. So he sent thugs to keep control of the people he considered thugs. The statistics, noted in nine categories below, prove without a doubt that white Americans generally see blacks as thugs and expendable; in that vein we created a thuggish police force. Otherwise, blacks would not be incarcerated at the rates they are, etc. 

Unless we remove the causes of riots, there will always be participants. The KKK lost its power because its influence was diluted by society opening up rather than bunkering down. Black Americans deserve better from our society; instead we cordoned off our own people merely because of their skin color. Realize that any riotous behaviors blacks exhibit were instilled and/or grimly modeled by white Americans; the group who still dominantly run a society horribly failing at protecting all its people. Again, we have tamped down our white supremacy in many ways since 1965, but our "colorblind" perceptions belie the actual harm still being done.

Let us review just NINE aggregate harms white society has leveled against black Americans, which I barely do justice to.

  1. Evictions: Blacks are evicted (podcast) at much greater levels than whites due rents rising faster in poor neighborhoods, and other. Eviction Lab found that 9 of the 10 highest-evicting large U.S. cities were not only located in the South but also had populations that were at least 30% black. For example, 3,660 evictions occurred in North Charleston in 2016, or 10.03 households evicted every day, or 16.5 in 100 renter homes are evicted a year.
  2. Health gap/Environmental harm : Black patients have been hospitalized and have been dying of COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates. Regardless of their wealth, black Americans are subjected to higher levels of air pollution than white Americans, say EPA researchers. Black women are 3 to 4 times as likely as white women to die of pregnancy complications, which may in part be connected to Catholic hospitals (who treat many POC), and their secretive and deathly ironic "ethical" and religious directives (ERDs). In 2015, heart disease death rates were 21% higher among blacks than among whites. Being black is a bigger risk factor for lead poisoning than poverty or poor housing. Black children are twice as likely as others to develop asthma due to living in pollution compromised neighborhoods: near coal plants and such. Additionally, food deserts greatly impact health for black Americans and other minorities. All these issues are the iceberg tip: racism's historical trauma. Examples: Tuskegee Institute study, and NC was one of 31 states to sterilize black women, 1921-1974, they were considered undesirables.
  3. Housing/Mortgage Discrimination: "Segregation in America is mostly a result of deliberate public policies that were designed to subjugate black people and promote white supremacy." About 45% of black Americans report discrimination when trying to rent or buy housing. "Racial segregation is the direct result of intentional government policy, not individual choice." Black Americans and Latinos are routinely denied conventional mortgage loans at far higher rates than their white counterparts, called modern day redlining. "Racial bias in mortgage lending is very real." – BusinessInsider.
  4. Banking Discrimination : “Black families are being underserved and overcharged by institutions that can provide the best channels for saving,” according to McKinsey Consulting. Banking while black also gets you handcuffed and put in a patrol car. Black owned firms are twice as likely to be rejected for loans. In Washington, D.C., blacks pay over $2,500 more over the course of a car loan than whites who have worse credit histories! Overdraft fees are higher in banks in mostly black and Latinx neighborhoods, compared to fees in white communities. 
  5. Poverty/Wealth/Income Gap: In 2015, about 38% of black children lived below the poverty line—that is four times greater in percentage terms than that of whites. Black Americans own 2.6% of the nation’s wealth while being 13% of the population. In 2016, the median wealth for black families was $17,600 compared with white families’ median wealth of $171,000. That is why the forty acres and a mule still apply. In 2018, the median black household earned just 59 cents for each dollar the median white household earned. POC shoulder higher housing costs as a portion of their incomes, while earning less than whites.
  6. Education/Learning Gap : McKinsey & Company found that "the persistence of the educational achievement gap imposes on the United States the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession." About 66% of black students still attend predominantly minority inner city schools, funded well below those in neighboring suburban areas. Around 48% of black 8th graders score below basic on math and reading tests, compared to 17% of whites. Black students were three times more likely to be referred for gifted-education programs if their teacher was black rather than white even after adjusting for factors such as standardized test scores. One study found one primary factor causing the gap is inequitable distribution of skilled, experienced teachers. By 3rd grade, only 49% of black students in Iowa are on grade level, compared to 81% for whites. "We also know that most people, including educators, do not want to believe themselves capable of racism, despite the fact that studies show 96% of educators hold unfavorable bias toward students of color."
School-to-prison pipeline:
"Black students face far greater rates of suspension and expulsion than do white students. In addition, while the percentage of white students suspended fell from 1999 to 2007, the percentage of Black students suspended rose." – Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D.
  1. Mass Incarceration/Sentencing Disparities : Nowhere else in the world incarcerates like we do. Before 1970, we incarcerated 100 people per 100,000 now it is 700 per 100,000 (video). Though racial disparities are decreasing, the rate of incarceration for blacks would match whites only after 100 years at the current pace. Blacks receive longer sentences than whites for the same crime. Black women, ages 18-19 are 3 times more likely to be imprisoned than white women.
  2. Drug Arrest Disparities : Black Americans are disproportionately arrested for drugs, while using nearly the same amounts as whites, blacks are arrested at three times the rate. Higher arrest rates mean more contact with the police, which contributes to the "thuggishness" discussed earlier, and increased likelihood for police brutality. Stop and frisk, and using the police as tax collectors as in Ferguson, Missouri, creates thuggish police, and of course mass incarceration.
  3. Job/Hiring Discrimination : Black Americans continue to face systematically higher unemployment rates, fewer job opportunities, lower pay, poorer benefits, and more job instability. Since 1989, meaning little change in 25 years, whites receive on average 36% more job application callbacks than blacks. A white man with a bachelor’s degree or more makes $76,708 annually, almost $27,000 more than a black woman with a bachelor’s degree or more. In 2019, blacks are twice as likely to be unemployed as whites overall (6.4% vs. 3.1%). There is evidence that the returns for improving credentials are much higher for whites than blacks.

Now consider a… put yourself in their shoes narrative. What if there were as many white Americans incarcerated today as blacks in percentage terms? Another six million whites would be imprisoned and nearly twenty million more would be on some form of parole. About fifty million or more white adults would have felonies on their permanent record rather than the ten to twelve million in current statistics. Imagine if One in Three white fathers, adult brothers and sons had felony records; what would that do to their outlook on life, their self esteem, their hopes, and their future?

CONCLUSION

All of my research has led me to the conclusion that the major reason for our riotous history narrows down to groups asserting, or reasserting power over society, or groups attempting to assert power. You will also have noticed that riots up until 1960 were almost entirely caused by whites, which includes slave revolts/riots. Additionally, the size, quantity, frequency, and ugliness of riotous violence has generally been reduced, mostly because the "demands" of whites have been sated. In a quick summation below, I explain how the following three groups' riotous activities were quelled: workers/management, religious factions, and white supremacists.

Union organizing battles with owners and religious were about half of pre-1960 riots, and race riots the remainder. (1) Unions wanted more power. Unions asserted their power, and made good gains, giving both workers and management many fewer reasons to be violent. (2) The dominant religion of an area wanted to hold onto power. Other religions pushed back. State religion was ended. And by the time JFK, a Catholic was named president, our views as to our neighbor's religion were less strident, and a bigger secular space had developed, reducing tensions significantly.

That said, there are groups who are again conjuring up a one church nation. (3) Whites did not want to give up their power, which they reasserted many times over to prevent change. Yet as the tide turned in the 1960s, blacks were able to ask for more, got more, and as their power expanded they expected even more, not merely new laws and promises but enforcement and results. 

Regrettably, result development petered out during and after the Nixon administration, which put black hopes on a five decade slide into various degradations. However, whites in most areas retired their white hood-and-robe racist zealotry after the 1970s. For example, the Indiana legislature in the 1920s was controlled by the KKK, and had the governor's office. As the KKK relinquished public office and public activities, white society rid itself of white supremacist rampages, brazenly bigoted jury verdicts, and mob rule lynchings.

Unfortunately, even though ultimately banished, nationwide white supremacist rioting, overt racist political leanings, and a public bloodlust "legal" system were "only" the methane gas burning off from the national waste dump that is our systemic racist structure. Therefore we have not finished what we started. And we cannot finish off racism by pretending it is finished

Suppose a whole town-size mob of white supremacists lynched a black American tomorrow, while smiling and gawking, the remainder of America, or hopefully at least 99% of whites would be horrified, and know there is a problem to fix, now! The level of knowledge gained from just once such video, and its horrific result provides near perfect clarity. On the other hand, to expose the underlying horrors of systemic racism, requires millions of words spoken and written, with images of all kinds.

And even after that elaborate presentation many white Americans will deny systemic racism is actually bad enough to act in any way, let alone rapidly, and comprehensively uproot. Yet we have created an insidious racist undergrowth that must be dealt with, or the fires will continue to burn, hotter and hotter. 

The constant deprivation and desperation, generation after generation is not the same as other ethnic groups or races experienced. The Irish indentured servant got to be white, so did Greeks, and Italians. Asians have been able to avoid our ugliest racist perceptions and sanctions, not generationally or consistently onerous. African immigrants escape the generational obstacles. 

Our false colorblindness has not given black Americans the same benefit. The chains of generational frustrations must be eliminated, or explosion potential rises. Riots are the canary in the coal mine of explosive riots. Counter violence actions by law enforcement (policing/jailing) merely lights more fuses. Systemic racism cannot be captured in one picture, but it is right there in front of you to see, and understand, all the same.

Those whites who ask why black Americans would destroy their own neighborhoods, are asking the wrong question. The right question is, when will black Americans be so frustrated by their powerlessness, as racism continues to incinerate their future, that they repatriate this conflagration to the dominant culture that still conspires against them? White Americans must actually solve the overall problem, or the future will continue to be, a riot. And we whites will deserve every fearful, fiery minute of that future.

Those who say black Americans would have fought their way out of slavery if it was really as horrible as others say, makes little sense if whites expect blacks to kowtow to their demand for no more violence today. Blaming blacks for their current circumstances, but not blaming them for slavery also makes little sense. We must be consistent, otherwise we are misunderstanding oppression. On the negative side, complete oppression can nearly eliminate group violence, as slaveowners and Jim Crow almost achieved. Yet as a democracy for all, we must completely end group oppression to avoid group violence.

Oppression is made possible with structural power. Power will gravitate towards more violence, unless constantly "quarantined" by diverse groups, and unbiased as possible authorities. Oppression expands as political and legal impunity increases, and immunities are provided to oppressors. That oppression engenders backlash violence by the oppressed. When the most powerful group avoids looking deeply into the outcomes of their oppression, they often blame it on the people they are oppressing. We must end the cycle; and remember it is white culture that is problematic.

As the dominant identity, whites stretch vulgar to the extreme when we attack blacks for inserting their identity into "our" conversation, and then lashing out as it being inappropriate or oversold. The dominant power frequently oversells its value without being aware of it. Merely because we can always have the volume raised above all others does not equate to abuse when others ask for us to quiet down a moment to listen, and make judicious changes. We see ourselves as being above identity, yet it is just a hegemony identity hidden by humility hubris.

When we add up the grossly uneven statistics, the historic injustices we perpetrated, our coercive tendencies and racist policies, we whites have created an appalling mess. That is a mess only whites can fix. Until we whites become societally responsible, asking blacks who are struggling in our systemic racism restraints to be "personally responsible", or spouting other sophistic, racist tropes is willful, spiteful ignorance, or is the smokescreen of a whitewashing supremacist, escape artist, and gets us nowhere or worse.

We can remove the unlit matches of systemic racism, or see them lit forever into the future by our inaction and incompleteness.

Sincerely, Richard The Chwalek

Related LinkedIn Pulse Articles by RTC: (1) Prefrontal Cortex Meet Your Antiracist, (2) How Am I Not A Racist If I Soaked In It?, (3) In The Comfort Zone, Then Boom, White Backlash.

Report commissioned on housing, crime, education and race for my former hometown, South Bend, Indiana, just after we moved in 1975, I was in 6th grade. Here is a program on redlining in South Bend. Famous court case related to Washington High race riot, across the football field from my school, a half block from our South Bend home; I was in 2nd Grade.

EPILOGUE

"{This}…puts our government’s own moral authority at risk. How could a society that condemned its poor {one race} to avoidable material misery and social exclusion, legitimately expect them to remain loyal to its institutions and obey its laws?" – Daniel Markovits, his book noted below.

Black Lives Matter, Or The Class Struggle Matters, More?: There is an argument that has been circulating for a long time about whether it is best to focus on the class struggle with aristocrats/oligarchs rather than to focus on ending societal racism. We must do both simultaneously. Separating the two or expecting one to solve the other is mistaken. Both have powerful forces working on their behalf. Racism is imbedded into the fabric of society in ways that class is not. They have various connecting points, but are not evenly balanced, and are distinctly separated in parts as well. 

Many poor whites may have the impression they will be given a lower status if the government focuses too specifically on blacks. Or that poor whites will be forgotten in such a transformation. However, that would be detrimental to blacks if whites struggling in the current economy were left out. We also must understand our economic environment as it presents today. 

There are some forces that are similar to other time periods, and others that are not. Understanding the new wealth formulations could be the difference in fully solving both problems. The following book also covers a portion of the jobs/economics/wages versus racial injustice/reparations argument, and likely has a very enlightening perspective on our economy you have not heard much about; The Meritocracy Trap: How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite, by Daniel Markovits.

Other books I have listened to, or read.

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