Liberty & Justice for Some

Voice Card  -  Volume 25  -  Janine Card Number 16  -  Mon, Jun 29, 1992 11:14 PM

This is ONE OF 3 responses to VC 24 Roger 2 ("Rodney King Jury")...

As a native Angeleno, I can fully understand why the city burst into flames after the Rodney King verdict. It was just one more reminder of the unfair treatment people of color get in a predominantly fair-skinned society (or one where fair skin is considered, for some reason, better or more desireable).

Back on the soapbox again!!...

For one thing, not everybody understands the judicial system in this country. We are dealing with people who are given the short end of the stick from the moment of birth. Yes, there are those who "rise above" their situation, but for the most part, these children have pitifully few role models to mold their lives after. And who are the role models? Athletes and rappers and musicians and dancers... but it doesn't and shouldn't stop there, that's just narrowing the options and emphasizing the stereotypes.

The last time L.A. burned was during the Watts riots. The rioting stayed mainly in the black neighborhood, and many outsiders couldn't understand why the residents would burn the businesses they frequented. At the same time, many people felt (though they probably wouldn't admit it), "If they're stupid enough to destroy their own neighborhood, they deserve it. Just don't let them come into mine!" These same sentiments were raised this spring. The rioting happened for the same reasons it did in Watts: "HOW DO WE GET PEOPLE TO LISTEN?!!? How do we get others to listen to our pain, feel our suffering?" The legislative process may be "the" way for most of us to have our voices heard, but what about those who are not represented?

Obviously, burning a city is not a very logical thing to do, but it sure got everyone's attention, did it not? The people in the neighborhoods try very hard against some pretty insurmountable odds and with little support from the rest of the community. Tired of waiting for the government and schools to do something about drug prevention among schoolchildren, a group of parents and teachers formed their own after-school program, instilling a sense of self-worth in the kids and keeping them off the streets. Instead of praise from the school board, the board shut it down. They said it was an "unapproved" activity, since the developers of the program did not go through the red tape and the lengthy approval process. What IS an approved program - selling drugs and bringing guns to school?! This is just one example of the constant stream of NOs echoing throughout every ghetto in this country.

Nothing can make up for the terrible destruction and killing that went on in L.A. It can only serve as a "wake-up call" and a reminder of what will happen again if we just sweep these events under the rug. I think most people saw, too, that it's not just a black/white issue, it's a human issue. We have to remind ourselves we're all the same creatures, we just happen to come in a rainbow of colors.