by Dr. Denise R. Ames
The death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer has sent shock waves throughout the United States, and even the world. My point in this blog is to reflect upon what I see as some of the topics or questions that are being ignored or not sufficiently addressed. It is a good time to start to deeply reflect upon what the events mean to us as Americans, and internalize these thoughts and reflections to start the process of rebuilding something different. In a larger sense, the fate of our country depends on our responses.
The following series of blogs offer my 12 Reflections:
#3. The Looting/Rioting Element
Much of the liberal media is separating the protesters from the looters with a sharp dividing line. In fact, in the early days of the event, for example, PBS News Hour barely mentioned the mayhem in the streets, loss of life, and destruction of property, much of it disproportionately affecting the people hardest hit by the pandemic and rioting. Some of the conservative media conflates the two in one broad sweep. Either way you look at it, the looters played a huge and destructive role in events and their destructive role called out.
Even though I think the conservative media should have been more careful in separating the two groups, they were right to direct attention to what was going on, aside from protesting, and to be alarmed and disgusted by the looters’ mayhem, violence, and brazen aggression. How can some protesters call for defunding the police when many of the looters were wantonly kicking and beating those who stand in their way from breaking windows and snatching luxury goods?
As far as I know, many of the looters were black (not all), who happen to be the very group that protesters want to “protect.” Many conflated all blacks into those who need their paternalistic protection, looters included. This seems counterintuitive. The looters are a criminal element in American society that are largely the target of police activity, they are certainly different from blacks who want safety and security in their neighborhoods. When devising “social services,” recognizing that African Americans are a diverse mixture of different groups with different values, incomes, and aspirational goals is a high priority.
I taught in an all-black school (97%) in Jackson, MS in the 1970s for several years. During that time, I worked very hard to reach all my students. I enjoyed working with about two-thirds of my students who wanted to learn and were respectful despite many of them whose abilities fell below grade-level. About one-third of my students were even more woefully below grade-level, and many had attitudes that resisted and rejected my efforts. I talked to the principal of the school, a very strict African American man, about my disappointment that my efforts to “teach” some of the students were failing. He said something I will always remember, “Even Jesus couldn’t save them all.”
I compare my realization that I couldn’t reach all my students to what many on the left have yet to learn: there are many black and white criminals who will never be saved, no matter how many police are sent in or how many social programs are there to “help.” Prison seems to be their fate. Although I feel they should be given lots of chances to “mend their ways,” I have found that the behaviors, attitudes, and values that guided them on their path of crime are hard, if not impossible, to change. Some are not going to make it.
About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames
Dr. Ames’ varied life experiences—scholarly research, teaching, reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development trainings, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, developing globally-focused books and educational resources. She has written seven books, blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units for the non-profit and clients.
Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!
Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.
It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.
Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books