The predictable, self-righteous clucking by privileged White commentators of various stripes that followed especially upon the Ferguson rioting (which followed upon a grand jury result that shows every sign of having been aggressively manipulated so as to avoid, even preclude, any indictment of the White cop who killed an unarmed Black teenager) betrays a level of willful obtuseness that is truly beyond all measure. Add to this now the similar refusal to indict in the Garner case in Staten Island, and the shock and outrage in minority communities has reached levels not seen since the 1960’s. This rage continues to leave many people – almost entirely White people, and regardless, almost certainly members of some significantly privileged collection of people – completely dumb-founded as to the reason why this rage is fulminating in so many minority communities, a rage that often expresses itself blindly in violence. Why are black people, especially, so angry? Why do they lash out so violently at their own communities? These respective cases went before their grand juries, and when presented with all of the evidence, the grand juries said that there was not evidence enough for an indictment. Isn’t this how the system is supposed to work?
But that, of course, is precisely the problem: that IS how the system is supposed to work. The system IS supposed to dismiss the value of minority, especially black, lives. Because the system that we live in is one of monstrously institutionalized racism in which black people can be safely viewed as not even human by people who insist that this is not a problem. Yes, the system “worked.” Such “working” is the moral catastrophe of our age.
I wish to make two points here, the first is quite patently clear, while the second and longer point will be far more problematically speculative. Point #1 is that, while rioting – which is not at all the same as civil disobedience – is almost certainly not helpful, it is understandable. The second, far more speculative, point is an approach toward such an understanding that I’ve not seen suggested elsewhere.