Some African Americans have argued with me that comparing the riots to the Arab Spring gives too much credence to the miscreant behavior of some black youths. But that’s the problem. Inured to black suffering, we all have a double standard for African Americans. We met those who inspired the riots that gave rise to the Arab Spring as initiators and heroes of democracy, but the African American rioters as threats to society. Black folks were as mad as white folks, making clear that a quest for liberation has meaning to Americans when it occurs someplace other than here. We refuse to see ourselves.
While there are similarities between the Arab Spring and what may become an African American Spring, there are substantial differences. The African American Spring likely will be episodic, precipitated by each new police-related death of an unarmed African American. Events will be localized and initiated by African Americans but quickly become national and joined by all people. The timeline for finality will be fluid. Companies will be targets of opportunity.
Riots will ensue as long as institutionalized racism leads to more deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of police and lack of opportunity for the disenfranchised. African American rage will become American rage. There’s no getting around it. Until we address institutionalized racism as our most critical national security threat, we will continue to see the righteous indignation of riots in the streets of America.