Thousands upon thousands of protesters took to the streets over the weekend to rally for racial justice and protest police brutality. And despite the images and video clips of destruction that inevitably make the front page, the vast majority of these demonstrations were peaceful the vast majority of the time.
This is the main story—but it's not the story many Americans are seeing.
We humans have a tendency to rubberneck at tragedy and tune in our attention to violence, and the media caters to those instincts. In some cases, there's a good reason for shining a light on violence—like when brutality and coverup of brutality is an issue in a legal system that is supposed to protect and serve the people. But choosing to place the spotlight on a minority of people causing destruction when most are peacefully demonstrating merely reinforces the stereotypes that help race-based police brutality to go unchecked. In addition, rioting may be a true expression of rage and pain ("the language of the unheard," per Dr. King), but it also may be greedy opportunists taking advantage and outside forces purposefully sowing violence, chaos and confusion.
It's a part of the story, but not the main story.
The story of the week is that people across the nation announced that they were fed up with watching black people die and protested racial injustice in beautiful and powerful ways. Here are some images that illustrate that story:
First of all, SO much dancing.
https://t.co/QUL9rSoyvk— kylee (@kylee) 1590892318
https://t.co/SQVuJGqtzs— kylee (@kylee) 1590892463
https://t.co/9zwUknw5U8— kylee (@kylee) 1590893862
@tomakeupwityou From Brooklyn. Music and dancing in the streets. https://t.co/Y27oUHeahA— Sarah A | ساره #SaveSheikhJarrah (@Sarah A | ساره #SaveSheikhJarrah) 1590951772
Protesters using their bodies as shields to protect other protesters, businesses, and on some cases, police.
@tomakeupwityou https://t.co/goFTJl4sJT— m fui @kjsgomd (@m fui @kjsgomd) 1590943029
@tomakeupwityou Not sure if this read posted but there’s this too ❤️ they’re blocking the front of target to stop p… https://t.co/Tzydi9ye19— katy ✿ (@katy ✿) 1590905052
He got separated from his squad, and they protected him. POWERFUL Don’t let the media divide us 🙏 #BLM… https://t.co/mXzr15oHrX— Maria Garibay (@Maria Garibay) 1590879499
And group acts of powerful solidarity.
protesters lay on their stomach and chant “i can’t breathe” denver, co https://t.co/cUN7Tt0IHI— kylee (@kylee) 1590893574
washington, d.c. https://t.co/yjOxgenPZo— kylee (@kylee) 1590978787
protesters take a knee beverly hills, ca https://t.co/xdZ1cFTNi2— kylee (@kylee) 1590900689
protesters kneel for 9 minutes of silence in honor of george floyd chicago, il via: @kenziegarand https://t.co/2CapOGYpMo— kylee (@kylee) 1590943615
iowa city, ia https://t.co/Pn1oemefNf— kylee (@kylee) 1590947162
Peaceful protest in Minneapolis. Share this. Post this. It’s not exciting, it’s not shocking, but it is POWERFUL. https://t.co/tOIjXrPyJJ— Bi Nguyen “killer bee” (@Bi Nguyen “killer bee”) 1590901824
elderly lady cheers on protesters https://t.co/17969O701J— kylee (@kylee) 1590951815
And there's just something about hearing people in London chant "Black Lives Matter" with a British accent that warms the heart.
London shows its support for George Floyd as the #BlackLivesMatter protests continue. https://t.co/RhfI8fRTJC— Complex UK (@Complex UK) 1590950677
Reports show that some of these peaceful protesters were met with tear gas and rubber bullets anyway. That's another story as well. While we can't distill anything that's happening into a single, simplistic narrative, we should at least strive to make the main story the main story. When the majority of people in cities across the nation (and now around the world) are organizing and carrying out massive, peaceful, powerful protests to push the country toward justice, that's the main story. Well done, most of America.
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