Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Hippie News & Stuff: "Race" Riots
In light of the threats and charges, and counter-threats and counter-charges circulating in the tumultuous wake of the shooting death in February of Trayvon Martin, a young black man who appears to have been ambushed and assassinated by a "neighborhood watch" fanatic in a community in Sanford, Florida, the ugly rhetoric of "race riot" is again ricocheting around.
White-supremacists are conspicuously puffing themselves up to "defend" themselves (and "all white people") from hotly imagined (and not-so-secretly anticipated) assaults by marauding squadrons of black, urban gangstas who, they believe, will be prowling white neighborhoods seeking to extract revenge for Trayvon's murder.
I think that, when nowadays, folks hear and/or bandy about the term "race riots," the first image many people would evoke would be something from the inflammations of the ghettos and inner cities of the 1960s and '70s; or possibly, more recently, the violent outbreaks after the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles, and the lenient treatment of his accused abusers in the police.
But in the harsh realities of history, the truth of the matter is and has always been that, based on the numbers and the violence of the incidents, the vast, really overwhelming majority of racial violence on these shores has been perpetrated by people who said and thought they were "white" against others. During the 19the and early 20th centuries, blacks were the most likely group most likely to be lynched, but Italians were the SECOND most likely.
Still, organized, often state-supported violence against black people is the most common. From Thibodeaux, LA (1887), to Atlanta, Ga (1906), to East St. Louis, Il (1917), Chicago, Il, and Omaha, Neb (1919), to Greenwood, OK, 1921) to Rosewood, Fl, to others too numerous to catalogue here, White mobs descended upon either small groups, and even individuals, as well as whole blak communities, and systematically destroyed them. In Greenwood, OK, the "Black Wall Street" until 1921, the Governor ordered out aircraft to strafe the fire-gutted ruins.
Susan Faludi, a very smart lady, and author of numerous, provocative and thoughtful books, argues that--to the extent that such a thing actually exists (and our stereotypes suggest it does)--the historico-psychological profile of the "dominant" class male in this country includes a deep and abiding fear of two things: slave revoilt and indian raid. They could defend the shores, but were vulnerable from within. In the belligerence of the 'supremacists,' we may hear the echoes of those fears.