Apparently, the election of America’s first black president did not usher in an era of racial healing.
After nearly 6 ½ years of Barack Obama and Eric Holder, after countless White House visits by Rev. Al Sharpton, America seems to be afflicted with more racial animus than racial healing.
The much-vaunted Obama economic recovery has not touched America’s inner cities. While providing great riches to America’s elite it has left the underclass behind.
Barack Obama rode into town behind a banner of hope and change. Many African-Americans bought the vision, the hope and the dream. They turned out in droves to vote for the first black president.
Many of them imagined that Barack Obama would be their savior, their messiah, that he would cure America’s institutional racism and pay off their mortgages.
Those who believed the narrative of racial oppression thrilled to the prospect of seeing the next chapter play itself out with the arrival of a savior who would redeem the suffering of American blacks.
Unfortunately, life is not a narrative. Things have not worked out as planned and America seems more divided along racial lines than it had been when Barack Obama was elected.
Truth be told, Obama and Holder were never in the business of racial healing. They preferred to turn people against each other, on the grounds of race and class.
Obama’s failure to do anything consequential for American blacks can always be blamed on whites, on white privilege and especially on white police.
Black-on-black crime might be out of control, but we can always blame white police officers.
If nothing is getting better in the black communities, it must be the fault of institutional white racism.
Why were Baltimore’s blacks rioting?
Perhaps they were venting their disappointment. They may not have been conscious of the fact that their great hope, Barack Obama had let them down, had failed at his job, had sold out their dreams.
Obama had allowed black Americans to believe that he would save them, that they need but cast a vote for him and all would be well.
After 6 ½ years they must be seeing that Obama lied to them and that voting for him accomplished nothing.
No law says that rage is always directed against those who have produced the conditions that gave rise to it. For now African Americans in Baltimore seem to believe that the institutional racism and the white police are responsible for their living conditions. It's easier than believing that black politicians have misled them.
They must be thinking that if Barack Obama could not solve the problems, the racism is even worse than they had imagined. They must be thinking that if a black mayor and black city officials could not solve their problems, the racism is endemic to America.
But, if you teach people that they are powerless and that the game is completely rigged against them, you demoralize them. They come away thinking that they cannot do anything to change their conditions except to strike out in impotent rage.
Megan McArdle explained it well:
But regardless of justification, rioting is incredibly destructive, mostly in the neighborhoods where the rioters live. In my own city, Washington, D.C., the major retail corridors that were destroyed in the 1968 riots have only really begun to recover in the last five years (and one of them still hasn't). Who suffered because of that? The store owners, obviously, and their insurers. But the people who suffered most grievously were the mostly black people who lived in those neighborhoods. The commercial craters left by the riots attracted crime, raised unemployment and left the residents of the neighborhood nowhere to buy the necessities of life. People who had just started to get a toehold in homeownership saw the value of their homes depressed for decades.
Burning down your neighborhood is not constructive. Worse, yet, rioting discourages precisely the kind of business development and harmonious neighborhoods that these communities need.
People who riot are saying that they see no way to work their way out of the difficulties they are in. One of the reasons they believe this is that they have been taught that they belong to a permanent victim class, a class that can only overcome its condition by voting Democratic.
Now, it is all being played out on the streets and in the courts. The drama of rioting will move into the courtroom.
And yet, no matter what happens in the courts—may justice be done, fairly and impartially—the fact remains that riots solve nothing and that even six guilty verdicts will have no real impact on the lives of black Baltimoreans.
Justice will not rebuild homes and businesses. It will not create jobs. It will not promote investment. Worse yet, it will not repair the damaged reputations of African Americans in Baltimore.