On this day in 1967, the Newark riots started. It was something that we are very familiar with today. The police arrested an African American cab driver for a driving violation. In the process, they beat him so badly that he ended up in the hospital. But there was a rumor that the police had killed him. This sparked the riot. But the police, ever the professionals short two rioters dead right away. The whole thing would continue on for six days and 26 people would end up dead.
The riots are often used to explain “white flight.” But let’s face it, our entire society was set up to incentivize whites to run to the suburbs. Public schools are now as as segregated as they were before the mid-1960s. People who blame whites running to the suburbs on things like the Newark riots have things exactly backwards. Anyway, Newark is no more black now than it was then. It is a lot more brown, however. It’s all about social class and how closely that is linked to race in this country.
This all reminds me of the Gil Scott-Heron poem, “Whitey on the Moon.” It’s as true now as it was then. Actually, it might be more true. The white elites don’t give a damn. And all whites are pretty smug about that.
Forty-Eight years later, and nothing has changed.