In 1965, the “negro part of LA” (as it was described in the news segment we watched during the screening on Monday 9/7) erupted in riots on the streets. We watched an insanely biased and overdramatised news segment that showed footage of looting and violence with theatrically dramatic music and white newscasters commenting over the footage. However, key factors to telling a whole story were missing: there were no interviews with the very people on the streets, and there wasn’t any context given to explain the events or the source of all the anger behind the riots. Instead, the rioters were seemingly brushed off as just hoodlums and thugs; they were not viewed as people who had legitimate concerns and legitimate reasons to be angry, rather as irrational villains who needed to be contained. Then we watched a clip of the LA uprising, and a very similar news segment was provided. However, there was one extremely important, eloquent, and necessary addition: Tim Chaney. Tim Chaney was a Black citizen living in Los Angeles and a participant in the Rodney King riots. Chaney provided excellent commentary on the events and pressingly explained reasons for the anger within the Black community (and their allies). Chaney’s words were poignant and revealing. He explained that the police abandoned the Black community, even though the cops were sworn to protect and serve all Americans, regardless of their race, socioeconomic background, religion, and so forth. His words stung with injustice, and they stung with recentness. Today, America’s treatment of the Black community is heartbreakingly unchanged. The two news segments are eerily similar to coverage of fed up Black communities today; for example, in juxtaposing Baltimore to the Watts riots and the LA uprisings, we see the same white commentary over black suffering without the full picture or real, Black voices; we watch the news create a boundary between the Black community and the rest of America; we watch institutionalised racism revealed and dissected, but we are yet to watch effective measures of change take full form.

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3 responses »

  1. shaafifarooqi says:

    I was also very struck by the similarities between the press then and now. In more recently occurring events, many news outlets have still forgotten to allow people in the Black community’s voices to be heard, resulting in bias reporting.

  2. chloekissane says:

    When viewing the coverage of the LA riots, I was shocked on how the news portrayed them. As we viewed riots occurring on a street section, the white reporters passively commentated. That small segment displayed the disconnect and misunderstanding the white community has on the African American population.

  3. alexanderlandau says:

    I’m an LA native and I had no idea that news agencies were framing the 1965 and 1992 riots this way. In school we were only taught one view on the riots: that members of the black communities in Watts and South Central got really angry and started looting stores and lighting buildings on fire. My high school teachers never talked about how news agency broadcasted these events or that the police were told to not intervene for a period of time in the 1992 riots. I’m glad that the videos we watched and our class discussions have opened my eyes to how African Americans have been framed in media and how a “white perspective” has historical prevailed in media.

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