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Inequality, Anger, Riots, and the Top 1 Percent

Aljazeera did a short documentary last week on their show titled Fault Lines. In this broadcast they discover that the top one percent of US Americans control 40 percent of the wealth. They posit that inequality is the worst it has been in almost a century and that the gap between the rich and the poor has been drastically exponential since the 1980’s. The documentary also covers how the political donations of the richest 1% are impacting the rest of the country. This broadcast is a must watch!

By the end of it you will surely be angry. But what is the next step to this anger? In London over the past 4 days more than 1000 people have been arrested due to riots. People are burning cars, setting buildings on fire, breaking store windows and looting. The killing of a black man by London police ignited this anger.

Across the world there are places where people take anger to streets of capitalism that have kept them on the margins for generations. A world where angry people use angry fist to figuratively and literally throw angry punches at their government. The world’s climate is one where people are uprising and uprooting dictators that try and control masses with iron fist. There are riots in London, Sit-Ins in Israel, protest in Syria, and violence in Chile. All of these movements are lead by young people in their country. Youth have always led the struggles and protest of every movement.

So where are the young people in the United States. Where is the anger? Where is the despair? Are my peers desperate for a better life? In a time when inequality is becoming more and more blatant, what will be the response of the young disenfranchised groups across my home country?

I understand why young people in London are angry; however, I do not ever think violence is a productive way of achieving equality in a democratic society. Violence only breeds more violence and at the end of the day, no one wins, no laws are changed, and no new policy is created to help the poor.

Young people, who are a part of an international struggle for economic and social human rights, must use the energy we have more strategically than random riots. We must organize and fight intellectually and politically, not physically.

But the underlining question still remains. Have the young people in the United States become complacent? Are we tapped out? Are we content? If inequality is truly worse now than it has been in the last four generations should we not be even angrier than our grandparents were in the civil rights movement or than the rioting youth in London? Even though we have won civil rights, are social and economic equality and rights less important?

We need a poor peoples campaign, one that is lead by young people who experience these problems everyday of their lives. Tavis Smiley and Cornell West have started a poverty tour to bring notice to the issue. I would like to see something similar come more from a grassroots level, the poor young people bringing notice and placing a siren to the world they will eventually inherit.