Rodney King died without ever getting the answer to the question he asked so many years ago: “Can we all get along?”
The man who ignited one of the worst urban riots in U.S. history left this world not with a bang but with a whimper when he apparently accidentally drowned in his backyard swimming pool on June 17. He was 47 years old.
As the world now knows, King was viciously beaten by L.A. police officers because he refused to stop rather than being arrested for drunken driving. Despite the beating being captured on video, the four officers were later acquitted by an all-white jury.
Despite evidence to contrary there are still those who believe King got what deserved — the beatings in 1992, his subsequent run-ins with the law, his struggles with alcoholism and drug abuse. It is the classic case of blaming the victim.
My recent article about racial profile http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/article/1212352–racial-profiling-a-troubling-rite-of-passage-for-many-black-men has elicited some interesting reaction from readers.
One reader wrote: “What an insightful article….Thank you for sharing and for opening our eyes a little.”
Another sent me a personal email: ” Dear Mr. Grange: The reason blacks are profiled is because blacks commit a disproportionately greater number of crimes than other races. Race hate talk? No, just factual….. Don’t want to be carded by the cops? Don’t wear a hoodie. Fair or not, the hoodie is associated with criminal behaviour, promoted through films and television. You think that violates your rights? No problem, wear your hoodie and roll the dice.”
It seems that young black men “roll the dice” every time they step outside their homes. Whether it’s trying to earn respect in the workplace or interacting with the criminal justice system. Rodney King knew this; and unfortunately for him each roll of the dice produced snake eyes.
He will never hear the answer to his question: “Can we all get along?” However, collectively, we need to find the answer to this question.
In 1992 it was Rodney King, in 2012 it was Trayvon Martin. Who will it be next year? Or the year after that? Or the year after that?