“Them belly full, but we hungry / A hungry mob is an angry mob”
Those opening lines are from a 1974 song by reggae musician, Bob Marley, in describing the reaction of people to their plight against hunger brought on by the “system.” Marley, born in “British” Jamaica, knew something about oppression, reflected by his song lyrics.
However, this anthem could easily be sung by people hungry not only for food, but for justice. In American Society, where for centuries, African Americans continue to be treated as second-class citizens—“them belly full,” all right! It’s not that black lives don’t matter, it’s that they don’t matter enough!
I am old enough to remember, 55 years ago, the Watts “riots” while living in Los Angeles. The subsequent summers of the late 1960’s saw many urban ghettos aflame, throughout our country. The lethal combustion of summer heat and years of collective internal frustration and anger in those communities that were denied the equality of opportunity to provide for themselves and their families produced toxic consequences and further despair. All it took was “one incident,” usually involving an infraction of the law—and human rage scorched the landscape—city blocks were reminiscent of war zones. Investigations would be carried out and commissions formed to seek the causes of the “unrest,” with remedies promised but rarely fulfilled.
“To Protect and Serve” is understood to be the underlying coda by which law enforcement operates on the streets. Unfortunately, too often in our still racially segregated communities, the police force is looked upon, as it was many decades ago, as an occupying force.
The latest victims’ names now yelled out and seen written on the placards among the demonstrators may change as the years go on. The issues don’t! It’s not rocket surgery! The answers are within our reach.
The question we must ask ourselves is—are we, as Americans, “Belly full”; and hungry and angry enough to change?