I picked up a copy of the local paper this morning, the Star Ledger.  There was an article that caught my eye, so I began reading.  The story covered the race riot that occurred in Newark, New Jersey in the 1967.  After the beating of a cab driver by police officers, the racial tension in Newark exploded in a riot that ended in multiple deaths, as many as 1500 people hurt, and 1600 arrested.  Though it was a sad day for the nation, it was hardly unique for the time period.  If we look back, we see many riots of this kind.  While quite a few occurred during the civil rights period, we see many taking place before and after this important era.  In fact, I think we can all remember the Los Angeles Riots that ensued after the Rodney King incident.  That was as recent as 1992. 

After reading this article, one single question came to mind; “Could this happen again in this day and age?”  Is it realistic to think that another race riot could occur somewhere in the near future?  I keep going back over this question, but I can’t seem to find an answer.  From my perspective, I don’t feel that racial tensions are at the level that they used to be.  In fact, I think the media has played a role in desensitizing everyone to racism.  I deal with people of just about every race, every day.  As both a college student and someone who works in a warehouse in the heart of Orange, NJ during the summer, I interact with all different cultures.  I just don’t see any racial hostility towards me or anyone else during my daily routine.  I hear stereotypes made, but I don’t see the hostility that used to be present.  While I know that there are still racists out there, and I know that there are places where racial tension is still an issue, based on my own personal experiences, the country does not have a race problem on its hands. 

Does this mean that race riots are a thing of the past?  Probably not.  In fact, I think that racism will exist as long as humans populate this Earth.  We have a natural tendency to stereotype and fear or dislike people that are different.  The key is to overcome these natural tendencies through interaction with other cultures and the continued teaching of equality in all institutions that children are involved in.  I am not sure if racism will continue to decline as it has, or if it will resurface and spike.  I think a lot of it depends on what the overall climate of our country is in the future.  Economic decline is a common cause of inceased racial tension.  Despite the possibility, I really can’t see riots happening in the near future.  It seems as though we see events in the media everyday that signal that racism is still alive.  We still see police brutality of minorities, we still see racial profiling, and we still see more fear of Muslims in airports.  The media likes to play up situations that may have another explanation besides racism, and figures like Rev. Al Sharpton tend to blow things out of proportion.  I think that our society as a whole is becoming tired of the racial strife.  It seems to me like an event such as the Rodney King beating would not cause as violent an outrage as it did 15 years ago, and at the same time, as many white people would be complaining as blacks, hispanics, or any other minority group.  Our society is not perfect, and humans are not perfect, but I feel that the climate of our country is not one that would provoke a major race riot.  If any were to occur, it would probably be limited to a small community, such as a school. 

Through it all, our society as a whole needs to make sure that no more riots occur in our country.  We need to learn from our past mistakes in order to prevent that kind of turmoil again.  Riots not only harm racial relations, but businesses, homes, families, and lives.  Only through tolerance can we achieve a truly peaceful state of racial harmony.

Time Line of Race Riots: Wikipedia

Jason “J. Klein” writes for the College Critic blog daily.  The College Critic covers a broad range of topics from a moderate perspective.

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