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Black America can’t take it any more The George Floyd uprising is forcing the US to confront the injustices it continues to enforce

A protester near the White House on 30 May. Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A protester near the White House on 30 May. Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)


June 3, 2020   6 mins

This weekend marked the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre — an event nearly wiped from American history. A century ago, the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma had emerged as a center of black wealth and entrepreneurship in America, with the neighbourhood known as the “Black Wall Street”. This community of black Americans had accomplished the goal of economic self-empowerment that had long been promoted as a path towards black equality.

Rather than celebrate it, an angry white mob descended upon the city and committed what in any other context would be remembered as ethnic cleansing. Entire city blocks were burned to the ground and at least 300 black residents murdered; the exact numbers may never be determined.

This weekend, 99 years later, angry mobs were on the streets again, as the United States rose up in protest against the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black American, by Derek Chauvin, a police officer.

These two moments, nearly a century apart, demonstrate an enduring reality for black Americans. We are consistently told that we must stop our own oppression, and do so in a way that is acceptable and not too jarring for the rest of society. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Dress, talk and act properly. If you must protest, do so in the most peaceful, least disruptive way possible (which is not at all how protests work). And even then, after black Americans employ all these peaceful forms of protest and self-empowerment, they are still met with opposition from angry white Americans who oppose changes to the status quo.

Sometimes, this opposition has been blatant and direct, ranging from the mobs that descended upon Tulsa in 1921, to the white supremacists at Charlottesville in 2017 who were heralded as “very fine people” by President Trump — despite their killing an innocent anti-racism activist and injuring many more.

At other times, the opposition to black equality has been faceless. I’m thinking of the Jim Crow laws of the American south which legalised discrimination for most of the 20th century, as well as also official government policies such as redlining — which deny African Americans home mortgages in more affluent or white neighborhoods, as marked by literal red lines drawn on city maps. These latter policies ensured that wealthy black communities like the one in the Greenwood District would be much harder to create and that black wealth would be only a fraction of white wealth for the average American household.

Throughout American history, black America has had the deck stacked against it. Black Americans have, even so, attempted to effect change, or simply fit in with our white neighbours and colleagues, in ways that were deemed acceptable (polite, peaceful, not too disruptive or uncomfortable) by the wider society. But even when we do everything that would seem necessary to gain acceptance – talk softly and in “proper” English, obtain education and professional success, obey the rules to a fault – these are not defences against arbitrary oppression or violence.

Acceptability did not prevent noted Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., (a truly respectable gentleman for whom I once worked) from being suspected of “breaking in” to his own house in 2009 and then being arrested for “disorderly conduct” for complaining too loudly about the situation. Nor did achieving the highest office in the land protect the new black President of the United States, who called the arrest “stupid” and was accused of not speaking in a way that was “becoming” or “appropriate” for the president (a standard that somehow stopped being enforced once Obama left office). Fame and success did not protect football players such as Colin Kaepernick, who was blackballed and singled out for kneeling during the national anthem as a polite protest against police brutality; President Trump called on the NFL to say “get that son of a bitch [Reid] off the field right now” to any player choosing to kneel.

On the same day that George Floyd was murdered, respectability did not protect Chris Cooper — a black, mild-mannered, Harvard-educated former comic book editor and current bird watching enthusiast out for a stroll in New York’s Central Park. After asking a white woman, Amy Cooper (no relation), to obey the park’s leash laws, she threatened to call the police and accused the “African American man” (as she emphasises) of threatening her. She not only makes the false accusation to the police while repeatedly pointing out Mr. Cooper’s race, but modulates her voice as if in a panic from some imagined assault. It’s all captured on video. Even when we’ve done everything right, threats, violence and arrest are only one moment away.

Despite being opposed at every turn, black Americans continue trying to work peacefully towards change. And the immediate reaction to George Floyd’s death gave hope that this time would be different; everyone from President Trump to Joe Biden and virtually all major conservative pundits condemned Floyd’s murder and called for swift justice.

But when this did not come, and frustrated that Chauvin and his associates had not been arrested, Minneapolis protestors displayed their anger in a generally peaceful way — by all reports, one broken window and some spray paint inflicted at the precinct where the officers worked on the first night of protests. But, instead of working to de-escalate the situation (or, say, arresting the man who killed a detained civilian on video), police responded by “firing tear gas and flash grenades” into the crowd.

After that, the protests and clashes grew in intensity, spreading across an America where many citizens felt that they had exhausted other options and, well, just felt exhausted in general. Curfews had to be enforced, and by the time Chauvin was eventually arrested, the clashes had taken on a more destructive character.

Despite the way that the unrest is being portrayed by Trump, who has labeled the protestors “thugs” (long a racially-coded term in American discourse), the lion’s share of actual violence — not property damage, but injury and death of people — has been inflicted on the protestors, not caused by them. Multiple motorists have purposely driven into crowds of protestors. This includes New York City police officers who were caught on video accelerating into a group of protestors (NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio blamed protestors for being in the way). Police and National Guard troops opened fire into a crowd in Louisville killing a popular black restaurant owner who may not have even been protesting at the time (the police claim they were responding to gunfire, but their body cameras were turned off, prompting firings and an FBI investigation into the event). In all, several black protestors and bystanders have been killed.

It is interesting to compare the authorities’ immediately aggressive response to the Floyd protests, even during the first few days of overwhelmingly peaceful demonstration, to the tolerance shown by police to armed, white anti-quarantine protestors when they invaded government buildings at the beginning of May. Echoing his Charlottesville remarks, the President encouraged and lauded those armed white protestors as “very good people”. These Floyd protests, by contrast, are “domestic acts of terror” with Trump threatening to implement martial law, even in defiance of local and state governments. Right-wing Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson, meanwhile, has argued that the rioting is worse than the offence and represents “oppression” and “tyranny” being committed by African Americans against society (the idea that African Americans are the true oppressors is a new, almost laughable, spin on a conservative strategy of painting themselves as the victims of progressive and minority agendas).

Unfortunately, as the protests endure and are met with sustained repression, the crowds are becoming more hostile. Outsiders — many of them white — have been responsible for much of that escalation in violence, although the identity of these individuals remains an open question — Right-wing extremists attempting to spark a “race war”; far-Left antifa activists, as President Trump has alleged, or whatever this mysterious and oddly dressed hammer-wielding man represents.

Lost, though, amid all the reports of looting and violence, is the reality that in instances where police officials and officers have shown recognition of the protestors’ grievances and solidarity with their struggles, the encounters have remained peaceful.

America declared its independence to protect “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for its citizens. Most Americans take these rights for granted, and fiercely defend them at the slightest provocation. But while, the anti-lockdown protestors were literally allowed to take up arms to protest the temporary infringements upon their liberty and personal pursuits, black Americans have been attempting to just convince society to fully respect the “life” portion of that phrase. The intensifying uprisings currently gripping the country are the latest, desperate but calculated attempt to be included in the principles that have been granted to others but continue to be denied to some.

In the face of racial injustices, non-violent resistance of the type employed by Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights protestors has been idealised as the “right” way for black Americans to protest. Across social media, many people have reminded us that even King recognised that “a riot is the language of the unheard”.  It’s also worth remembering that King’s non-violence did not prevent him from being beaten, jailed and ultimately shot in the face at age 39.

As black America continues to be shot in the face for standing up to racism and oppression, perhaps we’re beginning to recognise the limits of passive protest, as did America’s founders. In the words of black labour leader A Philip Randolph, an architect of Dr King’s March on Washington, “Freedom is never granted: It is won. Justice is never given: It is exacted.”

And the protests are sparking pledges of change across the country — Democratic and Republican governors have promised to implement reforms, while corporations, sports franchises and wealthy individuals are pledging millions of dollars for social justice initiatives.

So while not “acceptable” to those currently in power, the current uprising is forcing America to confront the injustices it has continued to enforce, it is rejecting the idea that we must oppose these injustices in the “right” way and it is recognising that we must do what is effective. The ultimate outcome remains uncertain, but the protests are certainly creating an atmosphere in which America sticking to an unjust status quo is no longer “acceptable” to us.


Dr Christopher Rhodes is a Lecturer at Boston University’s College of General Studies.
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Dennis Wheeler
Dennis Wheeler
4 years ago

Edit: You also lied and misrepresented the Copper incident (both were idiots, and uppity, entitled New Yorkers basically). You completely ignored the threatening words he said to her to her prompted her call to the police. How do you expect a woman to react in a relatively secluded corner of a park if a man says to her: “If you’re gonna do what you want then, I’m gonna do what I want to do and you’re not going to like it”? That’s a threat no matter the race of the person making it. That she identified his race to the 911 dispatcher (a relevant way to ID and describe someone you don’t know who is threatening you) was merely a statement of fact, not a value judgment.

If you want to talk about police brutality in general and the over-militarization of police forces, that’s a discussion worth having. But the notion spread about by mainstream media and SJWs like you that America is awash in white nationalism and white cops hunting down blacks, is just false. This is just the latest politically manipulated Narrative (I guess the mainstream media has gotten bored with Covid). Funny how the media accused peaceful white protesters against extreme lockdowns and the arbitrary suspension of civil and constitutional rights of being a health risk to the public because of Covid, not wearing Covid-muzzles, etc., but they are more than happy to egg-on rioters and looters, and I’ve not heard a peep about how they are spreading the supposedly so apocalyptic and massively deadly Coronavirus with their lack of social distancing, etc. Maybe the fires burn out the virus?

And where were and the global media when, to use just one example, Justine Damond was murdered by a black Somali cop in Minneapolis in 2017? Apparently I missed the nonstop 24/7 global outrage, self-righteous posturing by celebrities on Twitter, Antifa agitprop, ginned-up “protests” at embassies, the hagiographic street murals, etc. on her behalf. Well, a white woman being killed by a black immigrant Muslim cop doesn’t fit the media’s PC-SJW Narrative, does it? Not as conducive to manufacturing the latest cause célÚbre for the Left. For the media the slogan is, Only Black Lives Matter.

Fact – More whites are killed every year per 10,000 arrests than blacks.

Fact – Despite being only 13% of the population, blacks account for over half of all murders, including about half of all killings of cops in the line of duty. Think that may have something to do with some cops being more anxious and forceful in having to deal with blacks?
If Floyd had cooperated and just sat in the police car in the first place rather than seizing up, acting erratic, and resisting arrest, he might still be alive (though perhaps he may still have had a heart attack, which appears to be the likely real cause of death based on the coroner’s report).

Fact – Almost all murders of backs are by other blacks, not by whites (much less white cops). Wanna save black lives? Start by cleaning up the rampant delinquency, crime, and violence in your own communities.

But facts don’t matter to the media and the PC-SJW race hustlers and their Narrative (see also the travesty of history that is the NYT’s noxious “1619 Project”). Rational discourse and facts have long gone out the window in this sick country and its degenerate media culture (particularly among those who believe themselves to be the elite exemplars and opinion-makers of that culture, but are actually the most deluded and perfidious of all). Good riddance America. You’re done. I’m tired of pretending to give a damn anymore. I only hope I can find a way out soon.

Nigel Muirsmith
Nigel Muirsmith
4 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Wheeler

Where are you going to go?

Chris O
Chris O
4 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Wheeler

Reasonable points on the article, one-sided media coverage, and crime statistics. Reasonable points aside though, one still has to accept that the black population, historically, has got a raw deal in the US ( as have a few other ethnic groups…but those groups are not the subject of the current discussion) Furthermore, the penalty of passing a counterfeit note, even for a known felon, is not death. So anyone inflicting such death, even by mistake, has to be charged and allocated due process. Watch less news, dont leave, life goes on 🙂

Rosalind Goddart
Rosalind Goddart
4 years ago

Dear Sir,

I started reading your article with an open mind. We are going through dreadful times with no easy or clear solutions and was hoping to find some clarity and good perspective in your posting. However, when I reached the 5th paragraph where you state “the white supremacists at Charlottesville in 2017 who were heralded as “very fine people” by President Trump, I was very disappointed to spot your lie. What Trump said was “you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.” You, sir, should realize that subtle misrepresentations like yours only serve to discredit yourself and your work.

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
4 years ago

Its a pity that journalists cannot prevent themselves from ‘varnishing’ the truth in order to promote their own values.
Reliable, considered and colourless journos are very rare but should be highly valued.
Christopher Rhodes won’t be on my list, I wonder if he thinks he is somehow compensating for his ancestor ?

Nicolas Jouan
Nicolas Jouan
4 years ago

Plus some dubious transition between Martin Luther King Jr. who was (literally) shot in the face and today’s black America allegedly still “shot in the face” for standing up (link bringing to an article about a black teen recovering from… a rubber bullet shot). Good for the prose maybe, but dishonest.

Andrew Turnbull
Andrew Turnbull
4 years ago

IMO, his lies started earlier than that. “If you must protest, do so in the most peaceful, least disruptive way possible” ~ total, complete straw man.

And the lies seemingly never stopped.

Simon Giora
Simon Giora
4 years ago

Dr Rhodes does his argument no favours by bending facts to support his case.

He says: “…to the white supremacists at Charlottesville in 2017 who were heralded as “very fine people” by President Trump ” despite their killing an innocent anti-racism activist and injuring many more.”

What Trump actually said (verbatim):

“Excuse me, excuse me. They didn’t put themselves — and you had some
very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very
fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group. Excuse me,
excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that
group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very,
very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to
another name.”

He was not supporting white supremacists. He was being balanced: there were bad people on both sides.

benbow01
benbow01
4 years ago

‘Black America can’t take it anymore.’

Then stop voting Democrat!

The Party that controls States and urban areas, every place just about, where Black people are concentrated in poor, overcrowded housing, have lousy schools, poor health, drug problems, no jobs and high crime rates.

There is no such thing as ‘coincidence’.

egillespie1978
egillespie1978
4 years ago

The agenda and irrationality in your essay make it difficult to read.

To compare the right wing anti-lockdown protestors which did not cause violence or destroy property to protesters and rioters that have killed, gunned down, beaten and run over many cops and destroyed what is likely billions of dollars of property is an obscenity.

Over the last two years it is more likely a policeman get killed by a black American then vice versa. Black men are 6x more likely to commit murder than their white counterparts in America. Without acknowledging the differences in crime rate among ethnicity in America your motives become suspect and blatant.

The idea that there is systemic racism in modern-day law enforcement in America has no basis in fact. It is an irrational myth used to move forward with a destructive and dysfunctional agenda.

https://www.nature.com/arti

One positive of the protests is the media is no longer so focused on their COVID-19 hypochondria.

Andrew Turnbull
Andrew Turnbull
4 years ago
Reply to  egillespie1978

It is garbage. A dog’s breakfast. The thing is so replete with dishonesty (or sheer incompetence) just through the first third of the column that I stopped reading it (after submitting my own vivisection of that first third). UnHerd had besmirched themselves by publishing Rhodes’ essay, IMO.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
4 years ago

When Black Lives Matters move into a community, the police move out, leaving vulnerable communities further exposed to the criminal elements which thrive amongst poverty. It’s an entirely self defeating movement, which may have handed Trump the election.

Andrew Turnbull
Andrew Turnbull
4 years ago

This is a ridiculously uninformed essay. It’s so pervasively uninformed that one can only conclude that it’s deliberate.

Rather than celebrate it, an angry white mob descended upon the city

Who composed that mob? Democrats? Republicans? Neither? Maybe KKK elements? Did you know that a white man had been lynched in Tulsa the previous year? That does not speak well of Tulsa generally, for anyone.

Who is running the American cities where today’s riots have broken out? Are they governed by – and have they been governed for years by – Democrats, or by Republicans? A little context is in order in order to understand why and where “black America can’t take it any more”, if in fact that’s true. It’s context that you conspicuously omit, Mr. Rhodes.

As for Mr. Rhodes’ ignorant comment about Charlottesville, is that deliberate?

..to the white supremacists at Charlottesville in 2017 who were heralded as “very fine people” by President Trump…

It would behoove you to read the transcript of what Trump actually said, not what the Democrat Party propaganda arm media say he said. You would learn that Trump did not – absolutely not – herald white supremacists as very fine people.

Similarly, with today’s riots and protests, there are Antifa and there are very fine people who are protesting. I’m sure you would agree that there are very fine people today protesting Mr. Floyd’s death. But saying that is not the same as saying Antifa are “very fine people.” That’s the distinction Trump made that you, Mr. Rhodes, willfully misrepresent in this essay.

Acceptability did not prevent noted Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr….from being suspected of “breaking in” to his own house in 2009…

The misinformation is audacious in that quote. Again, is it deliberate? Or born of ignorance?

A witness observed Gates and his driver trying to force open Gates’ front door, because it had been jammed shut while he was abroad. The witness did not know Gates. The witness calls 911 and reports a possible burglary in process. The cops respond. That’s a perfectly reasonable response to the events that transpired up to that point.

Nor did achieving the highest office in the land protect the new black President of the United States, who called the arrest “stupid” and was accused of not speaking in a way that was “becoming” or “appropriate” for the president (a standard that somehow stopped being enforced once Obama left office).

Mr. Rhodes, why did you omit the part where Obama, inserting himself into the event and saying that the Cambridge police acted stupidly, preceded that comment with “I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts…”? Obama admitted to being, essentially, completely ignorant of what happened, and then in the same breath declared that the cops acted stupidly. That’s kind of relevant to your defense of Obama.

As for “…(a standard that somehow stopped being enforced once Obama left office)…” that is a laughably obtuse comment. Trump is forever being admonished and vilified for the language he uses (sometimes, deservedly so, and very often, from the Right).

Mr. Rhodes, did you do any research for this essay? It sounds like it could’ve come straight out of the mouths of any of MNSBC’s or CNN’s on-air talking heads.

I refuse to read this essay any further. Those egregious passages are sufficient to know that this dog’s breakfast of an essay isn’t worth the time of anyone who desires to be an informed citizen.

And shame on you, UnHerd, for publishing this. Have you no editors? Have you no standards for the writers you publish?

Andrew Turnbull
Andrew Turnbull
4 years ago

And it was detailed only up to the point at which I got sick and disgusted with reading his claptrap!

nenegaffney
nenegaffney
4 years ago

I was surprised to see this unbelievably skewed essay in UnHerd. If solving problems through dialogue is the goal it is important to get beyond talking points and propaganda. This essay misses that mark.

Carolyn Jackson
Carolyn Jackson
4 years ago

You criticise what you call “white supremacists” but what we appear to be seeing on the streets is not a call for equality but black supremacy – why are there never any riots when white people are killed by police? Deadly silence from everyone then.

Andrew Turnbull
Andrew Turnbull
4 years ago

Justine Damond – an unarmed white woman – was shot dead by a black cop in 2017. In Minneapolis!

That cop remained on the police force for eight months! The cop involved in Mr. Floyd’s death was fired and arrested in the span of about four days.

And then, when the arrest warrant was finally issued for the cop who shot Ms. Damond, he wasn’t fired. He resigned. Eight months after he shot the unarmed white woman.

No riots. Not even a single protest against police misconduct or brutality.

I guess to some people ONLY black lives matter.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

He did eventually get jailed for 12.5 years. Is that about average for murder these days, in the US?

Andrew Turnbull
Andrew Turnbull
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I suspect not. I don’t know why his sentence was seemingly lenient. But none of the “police brutality” crowd bothered to riot over the lack of justice Justine received.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

Thanks. The mantra, as I’m sure you will agree, must be, All Lives Matter, (ALM), not BLM.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
4 years ago

Have to agree with several of the other comments.
Factually inaccurate “It’s not Us it’s You” op-ed activism may play well to GWLs (Guilty White Liberals) but it can never lead to the changes needed to end this cycle of failures.

MLK commented over 60 years ago that the Black community needed to figure out why it was committing crime all out of proportion related to population.

jpmrwb9
jpmrwb9
4 years ago

If this is the level of discourse that is spoken and discussed at Boston University than If I had a child going to this school I would get my money back.
Dr. Rhodes is not only biased but I truly believe he is part of the current problem. A little more critical thinking and comprehension would serve him well.
This is the actual words that President Trump said: Trump has said his “very fine people” comment referred not to white supremacists and neo-Nazis but to “people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee ” a great general, whether you like it or not.”
Having seen the destruction of monuments of the past I find it to be reprehensible. We can talk all day about the Civil War and nothing will come out of it.
Has Dr. Rhodes read about Abraham Lincoln and his white supremacist background? Once you get your head out of your bias then the real learning will begin.
I thought UnHerd would be a place where unbiased, fake news would not meet their standards. I was wrong and I will be searching for better articles elsewhere. I can always get this gibberish on MSNBC, CNN and the rest of the MSM.

Michael McVeigh
Michael McVeigh
4 years ago

Yes, racism exists in the US – among both white & black, but no where near the extent implied.

W. P.
W. P.
4 years ago

Rhodes is either too stupid to be writing here or he is an unprincipled liar.

His claim that ‘the white supremacists at Charlottesville in 2017 were heralded as “very fine people” by President Trump’ is a bald-faced lie; his ‘interpretations’ of other recent incidents are equally suspect & intentional.

I would like to think Rhodes is the former but I suspect the latter is more likely.

Rybo Adders
Rybo Adders
4 years ago

Eloquently expressed in previous comments. Not at all interested in the fictional and selective narrative above. I have worked with people like this before and found them bigoted, boorish and unwilling and unable to engage in discussion which is contrary to their opinion.

nigel roberts
nigel roberts
4 years ago

And here’s how the Tulsa riots began if you’re wondering why the author doesn’t mention it:

“The massacre began over Memorial Day weekend after 19-year-old d**k Rowland, a black shoe-shiner, was accused of assaulting Sarah Page, the 17-year-old white elevator operator of the nearby Drexel Building. He was taken into custody. A subsequent gathering of angry local whites outside the courthouse where Rowland was being held, and the spread of rumors he had been lynched, alarmed the local black population, some of whom arrived at the courthouse armed. Shots were fired and twelve people were killed: ten white and two black.[18]” Wikipedia

I think that information is material to the discussion. Any honest writer would have included it.

Frederick B
Frederick B
4 years ago

Time to shrug off “white supremacy” then, since it brings so many evils. Form your own black country within America where you can live free from the white man and his many oppressions. And let the whites do the same. I don’t doubt for a moment that the white country would manage quite nicely.

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
4 years ago
Reply to  Frederick B

Quite. And of course the black country would be as hugely successful as all the black-run countries in Africa. Oh, hang on a minute…

Chris O
Chris O
4 years ago

I know…which is why i prefer to hit the lottery and move to Moldova, Ukraine, Serbia, Belarus, Bosnia, Macedonia, Albania, Argentina, Greece, Mother Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, and not the despicable Barbados, Bahamas, Botswana, Namibia, or Swaziland. But otherwise, nuances aside, your general point stands…but claiming that every white-run country is a joyous place to live is stretching it a little far. Some of them i would not set foot in even if paid.

Bill Gaffney
Bill Gaffney
4 years ago

BravoSierra! These riots aren’t about Mr Floyd. Also, check the stats, black on black killing is the majority. Just another whining article. Want things to change? Stop voting for DemocratSlaveryParty POLs.

Gerald gwarcuri
Gerald gwarcuri
4 years ago

The title of this article contains a false premise which drives the current race debate in the United States, one which Mr. Rhodes is entirely bought into, as is academia in general, the mainstream media, and a large part of the African-American population of this country. That premise is that there is such a thing as “Black America”. It is little wonder that people in other countries hold the distorted view that, above all else, we are a racist nation.

There is a popular proverb to the effect that “to a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. In the false narrative that has arisen regarding race in America, a sort of blindness has set in to the truth and the facts. Feelings predominate and energize this narrative. It is a source of virtue-signaling for many, especially self-described “activists”, pundits, “social justice warriors”, opportunistic politicians and academics. To a large extent, the fiction of a “Black America” Is a creation of these groups, self-perpetuating, and a lens through which everything must be viewed. And it has created a barrier by which many “black-Americans” have unwittingly been prevented from joining in the benefits of the freest, most open society the world has ever seen. ( I loathe any type of hyphenated description of Americans. )

But this is not all there is to America. Are there racist cops? Certainly. Is there endemic police department racism? That has never been demonstrated. Should police brutality in any guise be tolerated? Never. It should be eliminated root and branch. And genuine justice should be meted out to law enforcement officers who break the law.

If UnHerd wants to serve the role of illuminating serious topics such as the race violence in the United States, it should publish the words of all Americans, including people like Clarence Thomas. But, that might upset the received wisdom, the accepted narrative of race in America. Just like pointing out the ongoing black-on-black violence in Chicago, where hundreds are murdered every year, or the near-genocide against African-Americans perpetrated by the self-righteous abortions – “provided” as “healthcare” – by Planned Parenthood.

These things don’t excuse any violence against any ethnic community by law enforcement, but they provide a broader perspective on what is being done to African-Americans in this country under the guise of “helping” them. They are the most co-opted, propagandized minority in the US, and always have been. They are pawns in the false narrative of “Black America”, and until they can escape that intellectual and emotional vortex, constantly reinforced by well-meaning people like Christopher Rhodes, their future will simply be a repeat of their past. Which is a tragedy for all Americans.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago

Dishonest race baiting… .

40% of Black Americans consider themselves members of the middle class. How does that fit in with your idiotic notions about the universality of racism in the US?

People like you Dr Rhodes, perform the greatest disservice of all to your own race by peddling a grievance based worldview of victimhood and oppression. You exaggerate and lie your way through things as if the truth is of no importance -an inconsequential inconvenience to the narrative you would prefer to spin. And you do it for your own profit and self publicity, not caring that your untruths serve to whip up hatred and division whilst offering nothing remotely worthwhile to your own people -in fact keeping them in a perpetual state of victimhood because that’s just where you need them to be for you to continue to be ‘relevant’. What a waste of a Harvard education.

Rybo Adders
Rybo Adders
4 years ago

Currently reading “Black Lies Matter” by Taleeb Starkes which highlights the falsehoods of the race grievance industry.

Marcus Scott
Marcus Scott
4 years ago

What source claims “at least” 300 black residents were murdered in the Tulsa massacre? The one reference I have seen to that number is as the highest estimate by a 2001 Commission.

The author implies that the massacre was caused by jealousy over the economic success of the local black community. While that may have been a factor, the immediate cause of the violence was a confrontation between a group of armed black men and a white mob over the arrest of a black teenager. It is not clear which of the two groups initiated the violence. What followed was a massacre of black residents by a white mob, the author is correct in this, but the cause of the violence has been deliberately mischaracterised by the author.

nigel roberts
nigel roberts
4 years ago
Reply to  Marcus Scott

Indeed. Again per Wikipedia

Deaths

36 total; 26 black and 10 white (1921 records)
39 confirmed, 75″“100 to 150″“300 estimated (2001 commission)[3]

150″“200 black and 50 white (1921 estimate by W.F. White)[2]

Eamon Joseph
Eamon Joseph
4 years ago

Time to recognise Trump is a victim too. He grew up in a white supremacist household. He was privileged. Rich, white people ran things. Surely society failed him as well? Social services should have intervened when he was small. Maybe got him into a black family for fostering. Trump never got the chance to be ‘woke’ as they say. He was on a one way ticket from birth. A vicious cycle of wealth, privilege, whiteness that went on and on until inevitably he ended up the only place he could-The Whitehouse. Instead of judging him, let’s forgive him. We’re all the same after all. Equal. And let he who is without sin cast the first stone. (So many innocent people out there, who’d have thunk it.)

Rybo Adders
Rybo Adders
4 years ago
Reply to  Eamon Joseph

LOL – thanks!

roslynross3
roslynross3
4 years ago

While there may be issues to be explored in regard to police violence, particularly since police in 33 of the 50 states in the US, are trained by the Israeli Army whose expertise is in subjugating millions of people in Occupied Palestine, which hardly seems relevant in a democracy, there are other facts which are relevant.
Police officers fatally shoot 1,004 people each year in America.
25% are black.
This, despite African-Americans committing 53% of homicides, and 60% of robberies.
African-Americans are 13% of the population.
Of those who police shot last year, 28 were unarmed. 19 were white. 9 were black.
A police officer is 18.5x more likely to be killed by a black man than an unarmed black man is to be killed by a police officer.
Police are not the reason African-Americans die of homicide at eight times the rate of whites and hispanics combined. Criminal violence is.

Nick Wright
Nick Wright
4 years ago

Isn’t this what UnHerd should be all about: making sure we don’t just listen to the same voices; distinguishing ourselves from the mindless tribes? There are various facts that have been distorted and others that have been overlooked, but isn’t it our job as critical readers to understand the underlying message and motives of the writer? I applaud the bravery of the editors to include such a provocative piece and the author, who has written previously for UnHerd, to present it.

Andrew Turnbull
Andrew Turnbull
4 years ago

This is a patently dishonest or ignorant essay, and it’s almost enough to prompt me to discontinue receiving UnHerd’s daily email.

Rather than celebrate it, an angry white mob descended upon the city” ~ say, how about you tell us who that mob comprised? Hmmmm? Were they Republicans, or Democrats, or neither? Did you know that a white man had been lynched in Tulsa the previous year? Does not speak well of Tulsa generally.

Why don’t you tell us who is running the American cities where riots have broken out? Are they governed by – and have they been governed for years by – Democrats, or Republicans? A little context is in order in order to understand why and where “black America can’t take it any more”. Context you conspicuously omit.

As for Mr. Rhodes’ comment about Charlottesville…is that born of ignorance, too? Or dishonesty?

..to the white supremacists at Charlottesville in 2017 who were heralded as “very fine people” by President Trump…

It would behoove you to read the transcript of what Trump actually said, not what the Democrat Party propaganda arm media say he said. Then, you would know that he did not – absolutely not – herald white supremacists as very fine people.

Similarly, with today’s riots and protests, there are Antifa and there are very fine people who are protesting. I’m sure you would agree that there are very fine people today protesting Mr. Floyd’s death. But saying that is not the same as saying Antifa are “very fine people.” That’s the distinction Trump made that you, Mr. Rhodes, disgracefully misrepresent in this essay.

Acceptability did not prevent noted Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr….from being suspected of “breaking in” to his own house in 2009…

The sleight of hand is audacious in that quote. A witness observed Gates and his driver trying to force open Gates’ front door, because it had been jammed shut while he was abroad. The witness did not know Gates. The witness calls 911 and reports a possible burglary in process. The cops respond. That’s a perfectly reasonable response to the events that transpired up to that point.

Nor did achieving the highest office in the land protect the new black President of the United States, who called the arrest “stupid” and was accused of not speaking in a way that was “becoming” or “appropriate” for the president (a standard that somehow stopped being enforced once Obama left office).

How convenient for you to omit the part where Obama, inserting himself into the event and saying that the Cambridge police acted stupidly, preceded that comment with “”I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts…”. So Obama admitted to being, essentially, completely ignorant of what happened, and then in the same breath declared that the cops acted stupidly. Did you forget to include that bit of context? Was it not in the MSNBC broadcasts that you seem to have relied on for this entire dog’s breakfast of an essay?

And as for “…(a standard that somehow stopped being enforced once Obama left office)…” you have got to be joking. Or you’re obtuse.

Trump is forever being admonished and vilified for the language he uses (sometimes, deservedly so, and very often, from the Right). For you to write the words I just quoted is absurd. Mr. Rhodes, did you do any research for this essay? Or did you just watch MSNBC and CNN reruns?

I refuse to read this essay any further. Those egregious, whether intentional or just due to incompetence, passages are sufficient to know that this essay isn’t worth the time of anyone who desires to be an informed citizen.

And shame on you, UnHerd, for publishing this. Have you no editors?

Richard Bassett
Richard Bassett
4 years ago

Unherd has done itself no favours by publishing this rubbish. By contrast, there is more truth in the first paragraph of this article by Heather MacDonald than in the whole of this diatribe from a lecturer at the university that gave the world Anastasia Ocasio-Cortez.

https://www.wsj.com/article

Andrew Turnbull
Andrew Turnbull
4 years ago

Love the “Anastasia” part! 🙂

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
4 years ago

Are you saying she’s NOT the daughter of the last Tsar of Russia!!

theron80133
theron80133
4 years ago

Another article written by a brainwashed fool. There is nobody who was not horrified by the treatment of Floyd, unsavory as he may have been, but the riots and looting are even less acceptable and have nothing to do with justice. It is true that American police are harder on black people than other races. While this may be due to innate racism in some police it is by far not true of all police. None of the rioters and looters or their instigators are asking why black people get more attention from police because the truth is unpalatable.

Otto Christensen
Otto Christensen
4 years ago

Interesting how a well written but misinformed and slanted pov can evoke sympathy.

Alan Matthes
Alan Matthes
4 years ago

The intractable probem here is that racism is often in the eye of the beholder and provides a very convenient excuse for personal failure. Unfortunately Dr Rhodes is selective in his choice of facts to support his stance. Individual acts of racism probably happen every second of the day, by white and black alike because the world will always have bitter angry people in it. I find it quite disturbing that he would talk about ‘the limits of passive protest’ – where do you think the alternative will take you?

Gabriele
Gabriele
4 years ago

The article uses a bizarre, convoluted and contradictory logic to justify rioting.

Despite being opposed at every turn, black Americans continue trying to work peacefully towards change. And the immediate reaction to George Floyd’s death gave hope that this time would be different; everyone from President Trump to Joe Biden and virtually all major conservative pundits condemned Floyd’s murder and called for swift justice.

Here the author admits that every single leader supported the idea that what happened was wrong and demanded justice. He also says that people prefer peaceful means of protest.

But when this did not come, and frustrated that Chauvin and his associates had not been arrested, Minneapolis protestors displayed their anger in a generally peaceful way ” by all reports, one broken window and some spray paint inflicted at the precinct where the officers worked on the first night of protests. But, instead of working to de-escalate the situation (or, say, arresting the man who killed a detained civilian on video), police responded by “firing tear gas and flash grenades” into the crowd.

Then it admits that the protests were already turning disorderly from the beginning, because the unanimous calls for justice did not result in immediate results. Is the author familiar with the traditional pace of justice? Given the trials take months, if not years, does this justify rioting for every grave offense, real or perceived? Consider the glacial pace of trials in Italy, does it mean that every Italian should be encouraged “to riot for justice”?

After that, the protests and clashes grew in intensity, spreading across an America where many citizens felt that they had exhausted other options and, well, just felt exhausted in general. Curfews had to be enforced, and by the time Chauvin was eventually arrested, the clashes had taken on a more destructive character.

So, here the author admits that the culprit of the original injustice was swiftly arrested (all it took was a few days). But the riots continued because angry people have the right be violent, I guess.

So while not “acceptable” to those currently in power, the current uprising is forcing America to confront the injustices it has continued to enforce, it is rejecting the idea that we must oppose these injustices in the “right” way and it is recognising that we must do what is effective. The ultimate outcome remains uncertain, but the protests are certainly creating an atmosphere in which America sticking to an unjust status quo is no longer “acceptable” to us.

In the end the author fully embrace rioting, promoting it as a just uprising. In fact an uprising would require some form of leadership and political objective that is completely absent here. What is the exactly the hopeful message of reform brought by somebody stealing from a shop?

Setting aside the terrible reasoning of the author, real change in a democracy requires persuading other people to reform. Contemporary societies are complex and any chance requires a lot of work to coordinate different institutions and bring the majority of the poeple onboard. This is why peaceful protests are actually more successful than violent ones. I mean the Soviet Union itself was brought down by peaceful protests and political reform. As much as the USA is in bad shape, surely black americans cannot argue that the USA is more oppressive than the Soviet Union.

Andrew Turnbull
Andrew Turnbull
4 years ago

This is a patently dishonest essay, and it’s almost enough to prompt me to discontinue receiving UnHerd’s daily email. Unbelievable garbage.

Rather than celebrate it, an angry white mob descended upon the city” ~ say, how about you tell us who that mob comprised? Hmmmm? Were they Republicans, or Democrats, or neither? And you conspicuously declined to mention that a white murder suspect had been lynched in Tulsa the previous year. Yes, a white man was lynched. In Tulsa.

Then how about you tell us who is running the American cities where riots have broken out? Hmmmm? Are they governed by – and have they been governed for years by – Democrats, or Republicans? Think a little context is in order in order to understand why and where “black America can’t take it any more”? No, of course you don’t.

Mr. Rhodes is either astonishingly ignorant about Charlottesville…OR, he’s deliberately dishonest.

..to the white supremacists at Charlottesville in 2017 who were heralded as “very fine people” by President Trump…” ~ If you had either at least an ounce of honesty or an ounce of competence you would read the transcript of what Trump actually said, not what the Democrat Party propaganda arm media say he said. Then, you would know that he did not – absolutely not – herald white supremacists as very fine people.

Similarly, with today’s riots, there are Antifa and there are very fine people who are protesting. I’m sure you would agree that there are very fine people today protesting Mr. Floyd’s death. Saying that is not the same as saying Antifa are “very fine people.” That’s the distinction Trump made that YOU, Mr. Rhodes, disgracefully misrepresent in this essay.

Acceptability did not prevent noted Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr….from being suspected of “breaking in” to his own house in 2009…

You have to be dishonest to portray what happened the way you have. A witness observed Gates and his driver trying to force open Gates’ front door, because it had been jammed shut while he was abroad. So, two men are seen trying to force their way into the building. A witness calls 911 and reports a possible burglary in process. The cops respond. That’s a perfectly reasonable response to the events that transpired up to that point.

Nor did achieving the highest office in the land protect the new black President of the United States, who called the arrest “stupid” and was accused of not speaking in a way that was “becoming” or “appropriate” for the president (a standard that somehow stopped being enforced once Obama left office).

How convenient for you to omit the part where Obama, inserting himself into the event and saying that the Cambridge police acted stupidly, preceded that comment with “I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts…”. So Obama admitted to being, essentially, completely ignorant of what happened, and then in the same breath he declared that the cops acted stupidly. Gee, why did you leave that part out? Maybe it wasn’t in the MSNBC broadcasts that you seem to have relied on for this entire dog’s breakfast of an essay.

And as for “…(a standard that somehow stopped being enforced once Obama left office)…” you have got to be joking. Holy, holy cow. Trump is forever being admonished and vilified for the language he uses (sometimes, deservedly so, and very often, from the Right). For you to write the words I just quoted is laughably ridiculous! Seriously, Mr. Rhodes, did you do ANY research for this essay? Or did you just watch MSNBC and CNN reruns?

I refuse to read this asinine column any further. Those egregious, intentional or incompetent, passages are all I need to see to know this essay isn’t worth the time of anyone who desires to be an informed citizen.

Shame on you, UnHerd, for publishing this claptrap. Have you no editors??

bob alob
bob alob
4 years ago

The problem lies with the police and the courts, they act like thugs at times and the courts support them, no one is allowed to question their authority and they are too ready and willing to resort to violence, Floyd George was just another victim, the fact he was black has allowed the black lives matter group to hijack his death for their own ends, if it had been a white guy under that cops knee nobody would have cared, the casual disregard for life displayed by that cop is the real issue, even when on camera, he will have expected his buddies and his management to cover for him, that’s the real crime.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago

MSM reports 150,000 attended Hyde Park protests.

By my calculations that means at least 8.8 million Londoners didn’t.

No No
No No
4 years ago

A number of times I have seen Unherd described as a right wing website. Perhaps this was published as part of an attempt to dispell that image. I personally welcome opposing points of view being published here, but you have done yourself no favours with this. It should never have got through with bare faced lies about Trump/Charlottesville included. At that point I concluded that the article was probably not worth reading and stopped. The other comments seem to suggest that was right.

Rico n/a
Rico n/a
4 years ago

Perhaps these protests will lead to a long overdue awakening of the
rational part of the population, that these black protesters (and
activists likes the author of this piece alike) do not want equality,
they want special treatment. And as a people, we should not go along
with that. Yes, there have been injustices in our history. And we have
moved away from that. We are all equal under the law. This inflammatory
piece is so riddled with inaccuracies, it is not worth the (virtual)
paper it is written on.

John Taylor
John Taylor
4 years ago

The problem with this argument is that so many of the rioters, perhaps even the majority, were young, college-educated whites, not inner-city Blacks. In NYC, for instance, two lawyers were arrested for firebombing a police car. I suspect this hold elsewhere, if not the particular profession. If that is so, there is something new happening on the ground that talks of “uprisings,” with its connotations of the 1967-68 riots masks over.

Michael Mahler
Michael Mahler
4 years ago

Casually repeats “the Charlottesville lie,” therefore everything he says can (must?) be heavily discounted.

Jim Cooper
Jim Cooper
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Mahler

Well, like most black folk, I imagine he’s DESPERATE. But if racism is less about FACE than PLACE then this will continue to be the case. Why would anyone imagine white folk would give up their hegemony over others easily? Same goes for men over women and so on. It’s CASTE that rules the world and not CLASS. The truth is that black lives DONT matter to those they seek to challenge. Equality and univeral social justice are fantasies – unfortunately…

vince porter
vince porter
3 years ago

A fine example of where we are – an era characterized by dialogue de sourdes – the dialogue of the deaf. This article was obviously intended to convince conservatives of the righteousness of BLM. It’s distortions merely convince rational people that there is little to be gained from talking to people consumed by the past, not yet ready to face life on its own terms in a future of mutual respect. When you ‘blow it all up’, the most you can hope for is debris.