Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Baltimore Is Just the Beginning • 2015 May 6 • Time
A Bob Gorrell political cartoon shows a black man in a hoodie and with the stubble of the terminally unemployed, holding up a sign that says: “#BLACK LIVES MATTER (but police, private property and public safety DON’T!)” A Rick McKee cartoon features another black man in a hoodie wearing sunglasses and holding a box with a giant flat-screen TV. Behind him, the city is burning. He says to a little boy, “I burned your neighborhood and looted your stores so that you can live in a more just and fair society. … You’re welcome.”
Both of these cartoons exemplify the simple-minded—and racist—idea that looters and protestors are the same because they’re black and live in the same place. Protestors want to promote a political agenda, while looters want swag. Clearly, looters are criminals hurting the cause of the protesters and should be arrested and prosecuted. But when you lump them together and call them all “thugs,” you don’t have to listen to the real issues. It’s the adult equivalent of jamming your fingers in your ears, closing your eyes, and humming loudly.
I suggest we all pay attention to what’s happening in Baltimore, because it’s very likely that unless the economic and injustice issues raised there are addressed in a meaningful way across the country, we will be seeing many more Baltimores throughout the election season.