'All Lives Do Not Matter Until Black Lives Matter'

May 31, 2020, 5:44 PM · Does anyone care about theme parks right now?

I suspect not. When major news stories in the past have drawn our attention from normal interests, I have provided Theme Park Insider's readers and social media followers with links to news organizations covering the story. But in this case, there is no single source to which I direct you for the full story on what's happening in America at the moment.

Journalism is failing the public now, but not because individual reporters are failing to do their jobs. Reporters, photographers and videographers are taking bullets from the police as they try to show you what's happening in cities across the country. They are working hard for you - putting their safety at risk - but even their efforts are not bringing you the full story. That's because what is happening in the United States now defies news reporting. This is history... and we might need history's perspective to understand it.

The simplistic, naive and, frankly, incorrect way to report this story is as a clash between protestors and police. There's much, much more happening here - driven by additional actors trying to influence the way that you feel about and react to this story.

The heart of this story is police brutality toward people of color - the unnecessary detainment, abuse, and killing of people in the name of law enforcement. This week's protests are the latest attempt by people outraged by this racism to push society to make needed, fundamental, and long-overdue changes in the ways that we police communities and enforce laws in this country.

It's not just about getting rid a few bad cops. It's about changing a system that recruits, retains, and promotes bad cops often enough to make what happened to George Floyd a regular occurrence in America. It's about smashing the Blue Wall of Silence and building bridges between communities in its place.

Los Angeles protest - May 30
Photo © Brian Niles

This system did not evolve by accident. It was designed. And the forces that designed it will not give up their power willingly. That's why you see law enforcement offers firing tear gas at peaceful protestors and shooting rubber bullets at reporters trying to do their jobs. That why you we saw an undercover cop in Minneapolis destroy a store window, trying to incite a protest to become a riot so that police would have an excuse to crack down. Journalists are beginning to move beyond the simplistic "protesters vs. cops" narrative to investigate the provocateurs who are breaking ranks at nonviolent protests to destroy property. COINTELPRO was a dark and shameful - but very real - part of our nation's history. And its lessons remain part of our nation's present.

This isn't a conspiracy. It's complexity. Unfortunately, complexity does not play well on the news or in social media.

But we must understand the long, complex, and disturbing history of state-sponsored racial abuse and suppression in America to understand this story. Did you know that today is the 99th anniversary of the beginning of the Tulsa Race Massacre? Read up on that if - like for me - no one ever taught you about it in school.

Let's also not forget that we're in the middle of a pandemic. Covid-19 has not gone away and surely is spreading among those out on the streets this weekend, despite the almost universal use of masks. It's spreading in nursing homes, at restaurants and in people's backyards where they get together with friends. There's a lot happening right now that is keeping our attention from theme parks and vacations and moments when we can escape all that's unpleasant in the world.

But as the news keeps us from thinking about theme parks, it should not keep us from thinking about friends and acquaintances in our communities - including the Theme Park Insider community. I am not enabling replies on this article, but I have created a discussion post where we can touch base and remain connected as we deal with what's happening in the real world: Checking in: How are you doing right now?

So as I conclude this interruption in our regular Theme Park Insider programming, I leave you with the words of the best sign I saw this weekend - a truth that should unite us from coast to coast:

"All Lives do not Matter until Black Lives Matter."

Go in peace.

This article is not accepting comments.

Need Discount Tickets?

  Now open, or date announced:

  Still waiting on these:

Get Our Newsletter

Read Robert's Book

Stories from a Theme Park Insider