The Baltimore Show

In a recent Nation magazine article, I wrote that the media have a “no snitch” policy when it comes to exploring “the tangles of social pathologies,” in the white community. Whites can teach blacks a thing or two about rioting. They’d have to do some research, as I have, because white looting gets very little attention from the media. For example, contrary to the media’s usual sales pitch that a riot is racial, the typical rioter who participated in the Los Angeles riots that followed the acquittal of the policemen who beat Rodney King was Hispanic, not black. A criminologist for the Rand corporation concluded that “it was not a black riot but a minority riot.” Yet to this day the media continues to call the Los Angeles riots a black riot.

The late mayor Tom Bradley blamed the riots in Koreatown on whites; the media, however, began a loop about black/Korean relations. During the same period, Mayor Frank Jordan, a former police commissioner urged the white Rodney King riots in San Francisco and Berkeley to be restrained like the black protesters. The role of whites in the Los Angeles, Berkeley and San Francisco Rodney King riots has been erased by the media, another example of the media’s “no snitch” policy when it comes to white anti-social activity. Whites have been involved in the recent looting and trashing of stores in Oakland, while non-violent black protesters have urged them to stop. A witness called Sophlady said:

“The people who wear the masks, break windows and spray paint building are anarchists. They show at up any noticeable protest regardless of what the protest is about. Their actions should not be blamed on African-Americans protesting the murder of Freddie Gray. Very few of them are people of color.”

Whites were also involved in rioting in Baltimore, yet CNN had a black correspondent blame the rioting on black “savages” and likened the kids to those in “Lord of the Flies,” to the delight of the Bimbo, parading as a journalist, who interviewed him. If he had called the whites who rioted “savages” the right would intimidate CNN so, he’d have to apologize.


So on a Monday night, some high school kids burned down a couple of buildings and threw rocks at the police. Now if these rioters were fighting the police who represented a government that the bimbos and himbos posing as journalists were instructed by their owners, members of the one percent, to hate, the rioters would have been praised. So the Chief Himbo, CNN’s Don Lemon, and his colleagues spent more hours condemning the burning down of a CVS, which was deplorable, than the destruction of Iraq and the theft of Mesopotamian art. Maybe because they were used to promote the war. After the State prosecutor charged the six policemen for the homicide of Freddie Gray, CNN and MSNBC ran former and present policemen, “law enforcement” analysts, to criticize her decision and defend the six cops. They were allowed to comment around the clock. It was like a convention of the policemen’s union. Why do the six policemen need defense attorneys when they have Anderson Cooper? Will the six get jobs as CNN commentators if they are acquitted? Of course, their commentator, the odious Mark O’Mara, who portrayed Trayvon Martin as a thug (a lie) said that the indictment of the police would lead to disrespect for the police. CNN’s producer, Jeff Zucker, who, when NBC’s head, was accused of providing a ”cruel” atmosphere for women (take note Melissa Harris-Perry), knows how to pick ‘em.

One of the buildings that was looted was a check cashing place. Instead of looting this kind of establishment, inner city kids can find another method of looting. They can become a member of a banking firm and run a check cashing scam themselves, a payday loan operation like those that exist in the Baltimore and other ghettos. They can loot big by charging poor people up to 600% interest! Or they can loot big by selling junk mortgages to black people like those who live in Baltimore. Reporting on a scam used by Wells Fargo to swindle Baltimore’s black homeowners, the New York Times cited the testimony of a Wells Fargo loan officer: “Ms. Jacobson said in an interview, [the bank] completealisaw the black community as fertile ground for subprime mortgages, as working-class blacks were hungry to be a part of the nation’s home-owning mania. Loan officers, she said, pushed customers who could have qualified for prime loans into subprime mortgages. Another loan officer stated in an affidavit filed last week that employees had referred to blacks as ‘mud people’ and to subprime lending as ‘ghetto loans.”

The banks have been depressing the assets of blacks since Reconstruction. Before that blacks were considered property and were mortgaged themselves. The practice of redlining deprives blacks of the equity that could be used to start businesses. For example, the owner of the building that was rented by CVS lives in New Jersey– like some of the members of the Baltimore police. What would happen if the big banks stopped playing John Dillinger by robbing the assets of blacks? Maybe blacks could have owned that building. Not once did I hear a commentators blame the banks for poverty in Baltimore. Their historic goal seems to be that of depriving blacks of assets and grabbing the few assets that they own. Juliet E.K.Walker, author of The History of Black Business in America is right. The banks’ attitudes toward blacks is the same as it was one hundred years ago.

The tenured academics and self employed preachers that MSNBC and CNN employ in order to avoid paying professional black journalists, failed to answer the question. How would black unemployment look if black business persons were treated in the same manner as whites, who have been favored by the banks and the government since what Native Americans call “the Invasion of North America.” They ought to know. According to the brilliant Roxanne Ortiz Dunbar, Native Americans lost one hundred million acres to the invasion.

One serious Civil Rights leader offered a Marshall Plan for the Inner City as a solution to Baltimore’s job crisis. But if other programs designed for black uplift are an example, Affirmative Action and the Small Business Administration, most of that money would also go to whites. Contrary to the lie that the War on Poverty and the Great Society Programs were black programs, most of those who had an advantage were whites

President Obama seemed to imply that if there were less fatherless homes in the inner city the police wouldn’t murder blacks. Since the majority of blacks are in jail as a result of prosecutorial misconduct, lying policemen, and being charged with crimes that whites get away with, the President can put black fathers and mothers in the home by granting them a pardon. His comment also ignores the fact that police shoot blacks who live in two family households. They shoot Hispanics who have both the mother and father in the home. Even MSNBC’s toned-down Hispanic token, Jose Diaz-Balart, who, like other MSNBC anchors, has been instructed to blame the shootings of blacks on black personal behavior, had to depart from the script and mention the shooting of a Hispanic kid. It was so blatant.

If the looters who are stealing paper towels and six packs learned how to loot big, the president won’t call them thugs. They would be members of his base. He would say that they were too big to jail. He might even invite them to the white house for dinner.

Ishmael Reed is the author of The Complete Muhammad Ali.



Ishmael Reed’s latest play is “The Conductor.”