Abstract: In my work, I examine the black oppression by white societies in the United States and England, and how this oppression leads to and affects the actions of rioters. I argue that white society the justified the oppression of blacks by “othering” the black community. This “othering” defined blacks as “criminals,” “savages” and “thugs” in order to make the black community seem like something to be feared, justifying the brutal practices of the police. Portraying the black community as “lazy” also allowed the white community to justify the economic oppression of black communities instead of devoting funds to support programs that would help black communities. The government ignored black communities as poor blacks crowded into urban ghettos. I argue that black people were frustrated that white society did not treat blacks as equal citizens and that their lives did not matter to white society. Both white and black communities struggled with “identity” with white society basing their identity off the oppression of the black community and the black community being unable to be accepted as equals. With a catalyst, the black community rioted in an effort to draw attention to their oppression. The violence of the rioters was directed at their oppressors (police and other citizens) or symbols of their oppression (stores and businesses). The state believed rioters were rioting simply because they were criminal, and did not address the economic or “othering” issues that led to rioting. The media portrayed rioters as criminals who were rioting for fun, and paid little attention to the cause of the riots. This left the black communities still oppressed following the riots, because “othering” had justified their oppression to white society.


King, Shannon




Arts and Humanities

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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