Call it What it Is

The Super Bowl riots demonstrate how race defines violence

 By Amanda Dominguez-Chio  Contributor

Photo courtesy of Eduardo Munoz/Getty Images

And the Philadelphia Eagles have won the 2018 Super Bowl. Cheers! Excitement! People running in the streets looting and rioting!

“They’re not rioting,” you might say, “those people are just happy and having fun!”

Sports riots are more common than we’d like to imagine. When the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2014, fans vandalized buildings, police cars and other property across the city in a “celebratory mood.” According to the Los Angeles Times, six people were admitted to local hospitals and the police recorded 40 arrests for various crimes.

In 2004, riots broke out in Boston when the Red Sox beat the New York Yankees. Victoria Snelgrove, a student at Emerson College, was struck by a pepper spray projectile used to disperse the crowd and died after paramedics couldn’t tend to her. In 2000, riots also broke out in Los Angeles when the Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers, causing fans to flip vehicles. And back in 1984, the Detroit Tigers won the World Series, causing a frenzy that left one person dead and eight reported rapes. Shall I go on?

I understand that the Eagles winning their first Super Bowl calls for celebration. Nonetheless, looting and destroying property is not acceptable, especially if we take into consideration the reactions to these riots.

“You can riot if you’re white and your team wins, but if you’re black and being killed, you can’t speak out,” he said.

Zak Cheney-Rice, a senior staff writer for Mic, notes that when a group of mostly white people take to the streets in response to a sporting event, they’re rarely characterized as “rioters, criminals or thugs.” Instead, they are referred to as “fans that celebrate” based on the context of sports.

In an interview with “Newsweek” shortly after the event, Black Lives Matter New York Chapter President Hawk Newsome called the reactions of the Philadelphia Super Bowl riots a “glaring example of white privilege.”

“You can riot if you’re white and your team wins, but if you’re black and being killed, you can’t speak out,” he said.

There’s a racial double standard at play. The public lets these “fans” off the hook, but do not show the same clemency towards people of color, like the Black Lives Matter movement, whose members peacefully protest for human rights. It baffles me how the public can condone behavior that caused millions of dollars in property damages, yet condemn a movement that peacefully protests against racial violence and systematic injustice toward black people.

Adding more insult to injury is how the public continues to contradict itself. It shows a disdain toward those who they believe disrespect their flag and country, like Colin Kaepernick and his take-a-knee protest, but fail to see how the rioting contributes to the very violence it is against.

I think the saddest realization is that many of these “fans” will get off with impunity. We have a serious issue at hand and can’t indulge this riotous behavior. It’s time we stop treating this as a joke, because trivializing white privilege, rather than calling it out, serves only to tighten its grip upon our society. It’s time we start holding rioters that consist of mostly white people responsible for inciting sport riots.