Rest In Peace, Rodney King
“What I don’t understand is why people are so upset…it’s a videotape..a videotape doesn’t tell the whole story” -My High School Creative Writing Teacher (the day after the L.A. Riots began)
I’m not sure what effect Rodney King’s beating has had on the American landscape since that fateful March day in 1991. Al Sharpton said the beating forced America to deal with the issue of Police brutality. Perhaps, but if that’s the case, then they aren’t dealing with it very well. One only needs to look at the death of Ramarley Graham to know we aren’t close to dealing with this issue effectively.
The beating of Rodney King and the acquittal of the four officers who perpetrated the beating, opened my eyes to just how little justice I could expect as a black man in this country. It’s why today, polices like Stop and Frisk here in New York City infuriate me. It made me see and feel that I was indeed being hunted. It made me see and feel that I was indeed a target. I had heard all of these things before, in hip hop, through stories from elders, hell, my uncle used to call drug dealing ”The Man’s Setup”, but there it was..on screen..four white cops and one black man on the ground being beaten as if all the hate of America itself was flowing through their nightsticks. I couldn’t see faces, I could barely see King, but I could see the nightsticks raising and falling on King at a sickening rate. What I also saw in that videotape very clearly, and I think most importantly was MYSELF.
If I could talk to my high school creative writing teacher today I would say to her. Sometimes, a videotape does tell the whole story, just not the one YOU want to hear.
Rest In Peace Rodney King.