Here We Go Again: Watts Riots, Rodney King, Ferguson

By Zerline Hughes

the girl

My daughter, in awe, watches events unfold following the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury decision.

My mom always drilled into my head the saying, “if we don’t learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it.” Dare I say she — and the original quoter, George Santayana — are apparently correct.

What’s happened tonight following the Ferguson grand jury announcement reminds me of when I was 14, driving with my mom down LaBrea just a few hours after the Rodney King beating decision was announced, rushing to get home to safety. Virtually every place we ever visited for fast food, appliance stores, shoe stores, kids activities was in ruins. Burnt to the ground. Most never rebuilt.

kids

These two engrossed, watching the news coverage.

Now, here I am, 23 years later, as a parent, watching on TV with my own children the aftermath of the Ferguson, Missiouri, grand jury decision that delivered news to not indict Officer Darren Wilson who shot Michael Brown.

Tear gas. Heart attacks. Car fires, Bricks being thrown. Swat teams. Bats to windows. Looting of liquor stores. Masked residents.

It hurts. I’m having to explain this to my children, 9 and 11, what has happened. I’m having to answer questions. I’m having to shrug my shoulders because I don’t have the answers. The Associated Press professes to have some answers, and just moments ago published an article, “Answers to questions about the Ferguson grand jury.”

My daughter even asked, “why can’t the president arrest the police officer?”

Watching the events unfold after the decision makes me feel like my efforts will forever be thwarted. Making sure my kids don’t find their way as targets, or find their way on the other side as looters – folks that will likely end up in jail by morning – is the goal. As I always say, ‘Not These Two.’ But seeing the media coverage, hearing the reports and commentary, watching with my kids and trying to defend what’s happened isn’t going so well.

Nonetheless, I know I must keep the faith. And teach the kids what’s right. And make sure they’re learning from what they see, and remember it.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. -Santaya

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