Clueless White Privilege meets the Baltimore Revolt

What’s going on in Baltimore isn’t a riot, it’s a revolt, and clueless white people in the media just don’t get it.

Case in point: MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts, who actually grew up in a very affluent town in Maryland and attended a prestigious prep school in the area. During a live report from the streets of Baltimore yesterday, Roberts approached a protester and asked that protester whether rioting was really the right way to get justice for Freddie Gray.

Her response was perfect. She said:

My question to you is, when we were out here protesting all last week for six days straight peacefully, there were no news cameras, there were no helicopters, there was no riot gear, and nobody heard us…. I mean, enough is enough. We've had too many lives lost at the hands of police officers. Enough is enough.

Enough is enough is right. .

And if white people like Thomas Roberts stepped outside their narrow little world of privilege once in a while and actually learned about what it’s like to be black in Baltimore, they’d agree.

Don’t believe me? Just check out these statistics that Bill Quigley has put together over at Alternet.

One hundred and forty-eight thousand people, about 24 percent of Baltimore’s total population, live in poverty.

The unemployment rate in the black community is double the unemployment rate in the white community. People who live in Baltimore’s wealthiest neighborhoods live 20 years longer than people who live in Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods.

White babies born in Baltimore live, on average, 6 years longer than black babies, and black babies are 9 - I repeat, 9 - times more likely to die before their first birthday than white babies. Black Baltimore residents, meanwhile, are 8 times more likely to die from HIV/AIDS and 2 times more likely to die from diabetes.

And as if all that wasn’t bad enough, black Baltimore residents are 560 percent more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white Baltimore residents, despite smoking marijuana at about the same rate. In fact - and this is really amazing - 92 percent of all marijuana-related arrests in Baltimore were of African-Americans, which gives Charm City the dubious honor of having the highest marijuana arrest racial disparity in America.

This was the kindling; Freddie Gray’s death was just the spark.

That raises the question - would a white guy like, say, George Washington have put up with a situation like this? No, he wouldn’t have.

He and his fellow white American revolutionaries actually went out and started shooting people when their government got too oppressive. And that’s really the key point here. Violence, especially revolutionary violence, to paraphrase Black Panther H. Rap Brown, is as American as cherry pie.

That’s not, by the way, an endorsement of looting or burning down convenient stores - it’s just an acknowledgment of the historical reality we live in. This country was literally founded by rioters and “thugs.” Today we call them “patriots."

So when we see young black people out in the streets of Baltimore, we should remember the words of the greatest of those patriots, Thomas Jefferson.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” he once wrote,

that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness… [And] when a long train of abuses and usurpations… [demonstrates] a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Today, we don't need to completely throw off our government, the way that Washington and his buddies did, but it's way past time for some serious reforms. We could start by bringing our jobs back home from overseas, and banning police forces from using poor communities as ATMs. And investing in our schools and our young people.

We have a lot of work ahead of us to help America realize the ideals we've always claimed. Let's get started!


cccccttttt 8 years 4 weeks ago

China has over 50 cultural groups, and they kill each other at a rate sohigh that the Chinese government has financed brain studies asking why. In the following study MRI imaging of the brain reveals a section that responds with empathy/compassion when a person in pain is our same race or social group, but is almost quiet otherwise:

dianhow 8 years 4 weeks ago

Protesting is Great Looting- stealing- setting fires is wrong wrong wrong. That behavior makes people unsympathic to their genuine problems & concerns. Stop acting like out of control criminals !

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 4 weeks ago

"Today, we don't need to completely throw off our government"

I agree, although we do need to completely throw off the Oligarchs/Fascists who currently own and control our government. They own and control it for one reason have control over our economy, and we all know where this has lead!!!

What they, the Fascists realize, is that without their complete control of our economy, "an economic concept that calls for sharing the wealth of a society among all of its members, rather than reserving wealth for an exclusive few" could evolve, and that concept is part of Democratic Socialism.

"Economic institutions should be controlled and owned by the people affected by them."

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 8 years 4 weeks ago

The majority of US poor/homeless are white, and they have a hard time grasping that "white privilege" label. Did you know that America has a poverty crisis? Probably not, since the media marketed to libs (MSNBC, etc.) are keenly focused on middle class consumers and campaign donors. It has essentially been "open season" on our homeless poor for years, as they've been beaten, brutalized, even killed by citizens and police alike. These deaths cause no outrage, no protests, no concern. The US shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s, and liberals raised the Middle Class Elist banner. Out in the real world, not everyone can work (health, etc.) and there aren't jobs for all who urgently need one. The last I heard, there are 7 jobs for every 10 people struggling to find one. What do you think happens to the three who are left out?

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 8 years 4 weeks ago

If this test were administered in the US, I believe that class would be more of a defining issue than race. Ask any white person what they think about poor white people, and you'll get an idea of what I mean.

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 8 years 4 weeks ago

What would you suggest we do about the jobless poor, and many of the unemployable? America did decide that they are undeserving of the basic human needs of food and shelter.

ArizonaMike's picture
ArizonaMike 8 years 4 weeks ago

This ws nothing more than an opportunity to steal and loot. Look aty the films. I would not doubt if they had some actors in the crowd. I could have sworn I saw the same white lady being beaten up three times. Seems to me she would have left after the first beating instead of staying around for more.

I have noticed some disturbing facts and similarities about Furgason and Baltimore,both of them seemed to have some instigators riling up the crowds and encouraging the violence.

flyguy8650's picture
flyguy8650 8 years 4 weeks ago

Protests, of a peaceful and LOUD nature are what our country is most and should be most willing to accept. The fact that ANY citizen, or even non-citizen, can speak out as loud as they wish without violence is a treasured right that many have died for.

Looting, burning and the behavior of a few, no matter how disenfranchised they may be, is NOT acceptable and the fact that they actually deystroyed their own places is even more sinister. Why would ANY reasonable investor want to build anything when they are faced with mobs, gangs, drug peddlers and frankly worthless slacker young adults.

This just shows how bad the nanny state is at creating any path to self independance. The fatherless birth rate amoung african americans is near 80%! We need MEN and FATHERS to slap the shit out of these hoodlums like the mother we saw on TV! She deserves the medal of honor!

What a sad testiment to the American Exceptionalizm we once had.

YOu can spend our way out of this. Money is not the answer, CULTURAL pressure and self pride with Men and Women taking back the responsibility of raising children with moral compass and values. Judeo Christian values. Or maybe we should just start peddling BURKAS.....

The Liberal Left, Social Democrats, Right Wing Republicans are just OPPOSAMES

Pandering to the Oligarchs. Bring back the independant banks, DUMP ALL FREE Trade Agreements. Pump up the tariffs and bring back the manufacturing segment. The best cure for poverty is a job. It is up to the young citizens to look back at post WWII America and return to the values we had then. Vivia 1950!!

Sadly, it is my generation, baby boomers, that have made a mess of America. Maybe we should start a Soylent Green program. I dont mind becoming a square meal if makes America exceptional again. VOTE OUT ALL INCUMBANTS. VOTE CENTERIST. FIscal Conservatives and Social Moderates Only! Oh yeah, break up the big banks too..

flyguy8650's picture
flyguy8650 8 years 4 weeks ago


DFMM's picture
DFMM 8 years 4 weeks ago

In the Tuesday discussion that Thom had with Karen Hunter; one thing that came out was double standard; and it’s something that is everywhere if you are observant and objective. A couple of examples occurred to me. 1. We don’t know what percentage of law enforcement use excessive force, lie, are overly aggressive, etc.; but there is a word for that kind of behavior --- thuggery. 2. When blacks take to the streets with legitimate grievances, they are denigrated by many on the right. On the other hand; the right thought it was perfectly OK when teabaggers took to the streets with phony grievances and thinly veiled threats of violence such as watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 4 weeks ago

Reply to #2, #7 & #8: dianhow, ArizonaMike & flyguy, the cops are the out-of-control "hoodlums" and criminals. Young black men are being murdered for no reason, yet all you want to address here is looting and property damage. The friends, family, neighbors and peers of these murdered young black men have had enough. If they protest quietly and peacefully they will be ignored while the killing and the abuse continue unabated, and THAT is what's "wrong, wrong, wrong." It's just so easy for folks not living in these conditions to judge the reactions of those who are, and are tired of it and have no other recourse. If these killings continue with the impunity we've seen so far, it will only get worse. Those who are repeatedly let down by our so-called justice system will eventually resort to desperate means and this is the inevitable result. They take to the streets. And they have my sympathy. If I was there, I'd be out in the streets with them. In light of the tragedies provoking these revolts, it seems to me that bitching about property damage is pretty shallow. Just like the clueless white folks Thom is complaining about. Again, with my sympathy. And flyguy, you don't know what the hell you're talking about. Do YOU know any of these black families you're dissing? You're on the outside looking in, pal. Nothing but empty cliches to base your judgments on!

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 4 weeks ago

P.S. Try reading Thom's introductory post AGAIN.

ddanl's picture
ddanl 8 years 4 weeks ago

DAMN Thom! finally got it RIGHT! Baltimore is NOT a Riot with 'Thugs' Looting for no reason , but their own GAIN....but it IS a Revolution, with principled PPL throwing Rocks at COPS who continue to throw all their Military Might against Citizens.

WHERE this goes from here, i won't try to predict

i stand with the Citizens

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 4 weeks ago

There sure are a lot of clueless people on this blog. Where were they in defending property rights when the banks foreclosed on all those subprime mortgages that were peddled to the black community, stole their money and homes, only to let them rot all boarded up? At least those police cars and stores had insurance. Chances are those property owners will come out of this with brand new inventory, windows, doors, and paint--as well as compensation for their losses--way ahead of the game. If you really want to place blame for this riot, try the media. They are the ones who refused to cover the story until all hell broke loose. Thanks to the media you can also blame them for the next riot, and the next riot, and the next riot. Thanks to the media, now the people know exactly what they have to do to get any attention in this country. Thanks media. Public enemy #2.

Who is public enemy #3? If you seriously believe that blaming the victim is ever going to solve anything, look in the mirror. That was a really popular tactic in Nazi Germany. Look what that did to their country. No problem ever got solved by blaming the victims.

Finally, who is public enemy #1? Well if you took the time to listen to the protesters, that would be our economy and our Gestapo police force. If our economy was healthy enough for these minorities to get a good education and participate in it, there would be no need to hire a bunch of SS guards to oppress and harass them. Therefore, if I had to point a finger at the #1 enemy it would be income inequality. And the biggest offender right now is free trade. So if you really don't like what you see, I would suggest you address the real problems instead of pointing your racist fingers at the victims. Otherwise, don't be surprised when the riots break out in YOUR hometown; and, black people aren't the only shade of color running around in the streets.

bkalalian's picture
bkalalian 8 years 3 weeks ago

Hi Thom. On the show you asked something to the effect of what do we need to do to get White people to join this struggle. My answer to that question is. .if we can't stop ovbious racict White authoritarian's brutality against unarmed Blacks then we can't stop it anywhere...and guess who is next in line to get some of that brutality. ..

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 3 weeks ago

Reply to #16: Right on, Marc!! I concur.

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From Cracking the Code:
"No one communicates more thoughtfully or effectively on the radio airwaves than Thom Hartmann. He gets inside the arguments and helps people to think them through—to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."
Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen
From Screwed:
"If we are going to live in a Democracy, we need to have a healthy middle class. Thom Hartmann shows us how the ‘cons’ have wronged this country, and tells us what needs to be done to reclaim what it is to be American."
Eric Utne, Founder, Utne magazine
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom Hartmann is a creative thinker and committed small-d democrat. He has dealt with a wide range of topics throughout his life, and this book provides an excellent cross section. The Thom Hartmann Reader will make people both angry and motivated to act."
Dean Baker, economist and author of Plunder and Blunder, False Profits, and Taking Economics Seriously