I lived in Los Angeles during the events that led up to the so-called Rodney King riots. Word was that a racist climate (perpetuated by then-LAPD Chief Daryl Gates) set the wheels in motion that made the videotaped beating possible, a suburban white jury clearing the officers, and the deadly unrest that followed. On live television, a white man was dragged from his truck, savagely beaten, left for dead in the street, just to be rescued by black Samaritans who were later called sell-outs.
All races became involved in the fallout and subsequent “discussions”. All we do know is that events of the past are seldom let go and the innocent are still paying the price for the evils of others.
On Christmas Day, a Major with the Salvation Army taking his three children into the organization’s community center in North Little Rock, was held up and shot to death (in what appears to be a botched robbery attempt). The Major and his children are white and the two perpetrators were black. Given what we know about how long it takes for racial wounds to heal, what’s to say that these three young children (four, six, and eight) who witnessed the murder of their father become personally hostile to every black person they see, and who could really blame them?
I’m sure Major Wise’s wife Cindy, who was inside the community center while the shooting took place, is a good Christian woman and will attempt to make her children understand that there is evil in the world, but let’s be real: these children saw their father gunned down on Christmas Day, going to help the very people who took him away from them. One can only imagine what’s going on in their heads today.
No beer summit will ease their pain, and despite all the prayers and hugs these kids will get from a mother whose anguish we can only imagine, the hate for black people that may be within these children must be enormous and growing by the hour.
Will the “adults” in the equation come up to the plate and denounce this heinous act? Surely if the races were reversed, we’d hear the outcry from the usual suspects, and even one or two that would fly in to join the public outrage. This was a criminal act. Race should be irrelevant, but because of the way we treat crimes (giving some more weight than others purely because of the victim’s race, religion, or sexual orientation), this crime will not transcend race. It will justify the racism of some, and I can understand why.
As a ‘minority’, I’ve never agreed with those who make excuses for those of us who commit crime. Those who use justifications such as the perpetrator’s socio-economic conditions or race experience, demean all minorities by declaring us soulless beings devoid of the knowledge of right and wrong.
When these murderers are caught, will the community seek to make them pay for their crime, or will activists come out of the woodwork and demand the very mercy they denied Major Wise?
I’m concerned for Philip Wise’s wife, who has to explain to her children that not all black people are bad, and that volunteering to help those least fortunate has its rewards. To those young children, helping others cost them their father, and the faces of those who took him will be etched in their minds for the rest of their lives.
I hope they grow to not see all black people as potential killers, but if they do, who can really blame them?