The Climate is Ripe for Riots


In early August, right after the debt ceiling debacle, the big news story was the riots in London.  Peaceful protests of a questionable shooting of a father of four quickly turned into a violent affair. While Tottenham is a diverse section of the city, there is a history of racial tension and police distrust, and this shooting pushed those emotions over the edge.

Having a black president in the U.S. shows some progress, but racial tension and distrust between minorities and whites still exists in America. The addition of the worsening economic outlook only adds to this tension, making it more a matter of when, not if, something similar to the London riots can happen here.

We don’t need to go through a history lesson of the racial history in this country. We have our own examples of riots (Rodney King) and questionable police shootings (Sean Bell) that have only fed into the tension and distrust. People thought with the election of black president that race relations would improve. Instead, we have seen a rise in the ranks of white supremacy groups, and both the general public and political leaders believe that race relations have gotten worse. The idea that the 2008 election has pushed us into a post-racial society is simply a false attempt at hiding the real issues.

The economic outlook of minorities does not help the situation. While we have always had a wealth gap in this country, a recent study showed that it has gotten worse during this recession. This has only continued the belief in poor minority communities that the system is against them, but also feeds into the frustration of middle class minorities impacted by the foreclosure crisis. A bad economic outlook is enough to push anyone over the edge and the unemployment numbers for minorities only makes it worse.

When you combine both the direction of race relations and the economic outlook for minorities in this country, things do not look good. Despite the presence of a black president, the atmosphere is ripe for a London-style race riot. The tension is simmering below the surface and just like in London only waiting to boil over.

Photo Credit: StuartBannocks