Discussion: How A 1898 Race Riot Can Help Us Make Sense of Baltimore

Discussion for article #235917

On one hand, this N B D Connolly editorial gave me hope that we were moving toward a thoughtful discussion about the past, present, and future of ¨race¨ relations in this country. OTOH, a perusal of the ¨Reader Recommened¨ - NYT readers, not Fox viewers - comments made me realize how fucked-up my country still is regarding the matter.

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Sooo…the 1898 riot can help us make sense of Baltimore because the media then didn’t cover whites’ peaceful protests either before they rioted? Or something? Can anyone explain the point of this article to me?

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Violence, burning & looting perpetuate the stereotypical narrative. Just as the mistreatment of citizenry by the police does.

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The race riot in Springfield, IL in 1908 is an interesting case also.

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My grandmother lived thru this period as did her future husband, a grandfather I never met. As a boy he help his father run a livery/carriage stable on fifth street, on the “border” separating the black and white areas. He served who ever could pay him regardless of color. Later, whenever “mama” would talk about this (she was a lifelong librarian and historian) she said it was a takeover by the klan, plain and simple. Even the NC militia, who were first cheared by black and white people who wanted their elected government back, helped to ensure that the take over would hold and aided the klan, joining in the violence and intimidation of anyone who protested the takeover of the Wilmington government. She also said that only when black people and the sympathetic white people had to protect themselves did they turn to violence as well. Because my great grandfather would sell his services to black people the klan burned his stable to the ground. (Grandfather later built a house on the property and my grandmother lived there for fifty some years. It was always a mixed neighborhood and was great fun to go visit as a child. I got my first taste of Mt. Dew there, as well as the run of the city library.) I have a brother who lives in Wilmington and this event is still talked about today and, sadly, there are still people who will argue that the takeover was justified.

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Thank you for that piece of history!

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The only connection I see between “race riots” of the past and what happened in Baltimore is the historical connection. Those earlier riots by whites were part of the decades-long terrorist campaign to destroy the thriving black culture that emerged naturally during Reconstruction, and the consequences of that destruction, which we’re living with now in the form of an impoverished underclass resentful of authority – especially when the authorities act lawlessly, which appears to be the case in Freddie Grays death.

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I agree, but would also argue that in both cases (despite the many differences in situation/community) the mainstream media is contributing to and amplifying those racist structures and elements in the ways they portray respectively the African American and outside communities (that the latter are now more overtly authorities notwithstanding).

Thanks,
Ben

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You didn’t happen to get your education about Black culture during slavery and right after from reading Angela Davis? Back to reality, not sure what “thriving black culture” you’re referring to: 40 acres and a mule, plus some political representatives elected during the decade or two after the Civil War, is hardly something to call thriving. The link between then and now is the North’s willful failure to finish the Civil War, in fact allowing it to be partialy reversed for most of a century, with its various repercussions depending on region, migration patterns and general economic development of the U.S.

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Rosewood was self sufficient. Not “rich”, but doing just fine.

Many targets of lynchings were people doing just a little too well…

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I don’t see what you’re complaining about. I agree with you that the Union didn’t properly end the Civil War. But the white race riots like the one in Tulsa targeted black-owned businesses. The gains made during Reconstruction only started being reversed after US troops (many of them African American) were withdrawn from the South after Ulysses Grant left office in 1877, twelve years after the Civil War ended and the reign of terror began in the South. The former slaves made a lot of progress until then.

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When facts are subverted in favor of polemics, reality descends into tit for tat.

The Web changes everything. The narrative is no longer one way. Censorship is becoming impossible as we communicate at will with others. Our children are telepaths.

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The point is that black violence is highlighted in the news. White violence is ignored, deflected, or denied.

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