Lest we forget: When white kids do it, it's not a riot, it's a "celebration"

Being a brief reminder of when civil rest is and isn't socially acceptable according the major networks

Scott Eric Kaufman
April 28, 2015 7:42PM (UTC)

Whenever all the major networks devote countless new cycles to members of the African-American community "rioting" over a manifest injustice, it's important to be reminded that the language used to describe black protesters with a legitimate grievance is never trotted out when, for example, white college students rail against the tyranny of pumpkins:

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Or when "revelers" "celebrate" the victory and/or defeat of their favorite sportball team:

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It's unclear why "riot cops" would be needed to quell a "celebration," but as @red3blog noted in a brilliant string of tweets last year, they most certainly are:

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As Carl Bialik argued at FiveThirtyEight, sportball-related civil unrest is basically an American tradition at this point, and it is treated as such by most news outlets.


Justifiable anger at the senseless death of an African-American, however, can lead to one thing and one thing only -- rioting.

Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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