Updated: Aug 7
If you don't learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it.
These words are currently fighting for an audience in the conscious of otherwise reasonable people. Instead, many are allowing their senses to be clouded by a tense climate of fear. This is feeling Americans are entirely too familiar with. Rooted in a past that highlights our differences for the interest of few, as opposed to allowing the similarities we share complement our noble wishes.
Fifteen years ago, the world stood in awe as America; the world standard for freedom and democracy, allowed seven officers that were videotaped beating Rodney King to be vindicated of any wrong doing. In the wake of this injustice the black community in Los Angeles went into frenzy and rioted for the following 6 days culminating in 53 deaths and over 1 billion dollars in damages. An innocent trucker by the name of Reginald Denny was attacked and hit over the head with a cinderblock while trying to bypass traffic and unknowingly driving into an angry mob. His life has been in a state of perpetual
rehabilitation. One of the assailants, Henry Keith Watson offered a profound statement that should be considered now. "Nobody specifically sought out Reginald Denny to cause him any harm. He got caught up in the moment, just like everyone else.
These sentiments offer the insight into the demented and unreasonable activity of mob mentality. The moment referred to by Mr. Watson is that key moment; that few people recognize as their opportunity to defend their character by demonstrating their discipline. Many allow the outrage of that moment; to spiral into shameful actions that create future regret, instead of the moment; to inspire a concerted effort to implement systematic change. Opportunities for progress are lost and self-destructive decisions are made in the name of getting caught up in the moment.
Today we are at another moment in our nation’s history book. The murder of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch volunteers George Zimmerman has prompted mass organized demonstration against the Sanford Police department and Florida's stand your ground law. There is nostalgia in the air. The race component in this case has been argued as a proponent to the aggressor as well as the inept investigation by the Sanford police department. The injustice for another African American male, once again amplifies the resentment and distrust of a community those police are sworn to protect. These public servants are represented by their negligence instead of integrity and the
loss of that trust can be extremely damaging.
The intensity in the air has been heightened by the media talking heads. The network partisanship has facilitated insincere dialogue about race, with neither side embracing the complexities of today’s relationships. As if intentionally trying to time the perfect storm, this calamity happens during a time that is typically defined by the polarization of the country during an election. Ugly discourse floods the frequency’s that feed our senses. Opinions are declared as truths and truths are portrayed as presumptions.
So lets assume President Obama loses his re-election campaign and in the midst of that disappointment an innocent verdict of George Zimmerman is handed down. How will black America respond? Will they choose to learn from the lessons of regret from those involved in the Rodney King riots, or will they be overwhelmed with emotion from their complex relationship with America and force the world to take notice of their outrage once again through anarchy?
Either way their point will be made, but will their soul and neighborhoods survive their argument.