Monday, September 20, 2004

Rodney King: Peacemaker??

Rodney King says he wants to be remembered as a peacemaker? Not in my book. I know he didn't start the rioting, but he certainly didn't do much of anything to discourage it-- and he still maintains that the premise on which the rioting was based is a valid one.

I was in college during the Rodney King riots. Half the girls in my dorm suite had family in the Los Angeles area. When the riots broke out, we tried to call home but couldn't get through, so we were reduced to watching the TV, hoping to see if the riots were affecting our loved ones' places of residence or business. As we were biting our nails and watching news coverage, one of my suitemates (who was from Northern California and whose family was not in any danger) was jubilantly whooping it up about how "the revolution" was starting and white people were all going to get it stuck to them now. Our multi-ethnic group of TV watchers just stared at her like she was insane. People of all ethnicities were endangered by these riots. We tried to explain to her how insensitive it was of her to be celebrating the fact that our families were in danger.

Our college was not known for its activism, but there were rallies and sit-ins and such. Protesters blocked one of the major intersections, forcing the bus to re-route and making it necessary for me to walk across campus to get home. As I passed one of the rallies, a rock was thrown-- I don't think it was thrown deliberately at me, but it nearly missed my head. It was certainly thrown with reckless disregard for who it might hit. After that I only went out of the dorms when necessary, and I walked with my hand in my bag grasping my knitting needles, the only weapon I owned. Somebody else's perception of racism put me and my family, and my friends and their families, in danger.

Outside of "the revolution", the rest of us (again, people of every ethnicity) pulled together and supported each other. So when I read that Rodney King said "Race is the biggest problem we face in this country. I don't have to explain it, do I? We all know what's going on," I thought "Yeah, you and your five alternate personalities all know, so you don't have to explain it to them. The rest of us think the war on terror is the biggest problem."