Looking back 20 years ago to the week, all sorts of emotions came up when I watched VH1's latest Rock Docs film, Uprising: Hip Hop and The L.A. Riots, which premiered on May 1st on Vh1. As West Coast representer Snoop Dogg narrated the documentary, he explained the social and economical triggers that led up to that fateful day on April 29, 1992, which lasted 4 days. The documentary also highlighted how our new age civil rights leaders aka Hip Hop artists like KRS-1, Nas, Tupac, N.W.A. and Ice T, spoke on the growing rage and living conditions that were occurring in the ghetto prior to the uprising, yet why was no one listening? Instead they were trying to ban them from the airwaves because they were speaking the truth about the trials and tribulations that were occurring in the ghetto every day.
I was 11 years old and was not allowed to leave the house when all of the fires and looting were taking place. 53 people were left dead, while countless Los Angelenos were injured and billions of dollars of damage was done in the streets of South Los Angeles and abroad. While watching the documentary I think a lot of myths about the riots were dispelled as they showed races other than African Americans looting and causing mayhem. Furthermore, they also portrayed how many individuals who didn't even live in the area that came by to participate in the debauchery...SMH (Shaking My Head)
I understand the anger and rage that the people of my community felt on that day where the (4) LAPD Officers were acquitted for the brutal beating of Rodney King that was caught on videotape. Seeing an injustice like that first hand changed my view of this country and the world I lived in forever. However, the aftermath of the rage and violence left us with little to show for, other than a few pairs of Jordans, some electronic equipment, diapers, burned cars and buildings, and an infrastructure that would take years to rebuild.
I recall my parents taking us around on a tour of the devastation in the aftermath. We rode around South Los Angeles and saw all of the destruction first hand for the first time and not from the news channel's camera lense or perspective. Depression and activism followed shortly thereafter as black folks came together for what had seemed like the first time in my young life.
The documentary really brought some things to light that my young mind was not able to process at the time, yet in hindsight makes so much sense. Hearing the story told from the eyes of the musically artistic heroes of then and now really gave me a new perspective on this tragic incident in our history.
Below are some pictures to remind us all of the devastation 20 years ago:
As the country is yet again polarized on incidents of brutality and the mistreatment of people of color, such as in the Trayvon Martin case, many people have alluded to the 1992 riots reoccurring, if his killer, George Zimmerman is acquitted. Although it is not a situation of Police brutality, it shines the light on the realization that not much has changed when it comes to race relations and perceptions in this country, as well as, law enforcement's proclivity to protect their own, bury evidence and block the shade from tragedies such as Martin's unjust murder. Regardless, I urge us all across the country to think twice before we burn our own communities down, again, in a fit of rage and violence, because as we look back to the worse riots in our country's history, it doesnt change things.
Check your local listings and the link below to see when the Rock Docs will air again on Vh1:
2012-04-04/ vh1s-latest-rock-docs-film- uprising-hip-hop-and-the-l -a-riots-to-premiere-may-1 /
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Were you old enough to live through and remember the L.A. riots of 1992?
Do you think anything has changed from then to now?
Do you think people will riot if George Zimmerman is acquitted?
Were you one of the ones looting and burning?
If we could respond differently then, what would you say we should've done?