25 Years since the Rodney King beating

Show any Angeleno this image and everyone has a different story.

Rodney King beating March 3, 1991 Source: Wikipedia

It’s been 25 years since the Rodney King beating. Angeleno or not, what does this image do for you? Anything? It’s Think Out Loud Thursday, and this anniversary has me thinking all kinds of things and remembering all kinds of emotions. As with many others, this event created a chain of events that have changed my life.

I was eleven years old and in fifth grade. That evening, my siblings, grandparents and mom were in the living room and our eyes were all glued to the television. That night, we had no idea how the very event that we were watching on the television monitor would change our lives. A little over a year later, I was in the sixth grade. The clouds were orange and the air smelled ashy during recess time. The principal called a special assembly. We all marched over to the atrium. The teachers and faculty were trying to assure us that while something “bad” was happening, that everything was going to be okay. The uncertainty on their faces told me that nothing was okay. Nothing made any sense.

After school, I rushed home and searched for answers and turned on the news. The Los Angeles Riots were in full effect. Pockets of Los Angeles were hit. Fires, looters, sirens, it was mayhem. Uncertain, I still felt safe. The riots weren’t anywhere near my home. Until, I heard my mom’s voice. She was home. Home? During the middle of the day? What’s she doing home?

I shut off the news. The sound and tension in my house were all of a sudden very different. It was quiet and intense. I went upstairs and her room door was closed. I heard her voice and was trying to make out her words. She was talking to my uncle on the telephone. “There is nothing else to do. It’s gone.” she said. I knew she was referring to the business she built with her savings and all that she knew. It was gone. All gone. I opened the door and she was lying down with her eyes of disbelief wide open. I asked, “So the looters took everything?” She confirmed that yes, that’s what happened and that while other store owners went to protect their businesses with rifle in hand, she chose not to. She shared that being a single mom, she had too much to lose. I am so grateful she didn’t go that day.

True to my mom’s nature, the next day, she went back to what she knew and started sewing. She moved on and so did we. We all move on.

My 7th grade English Teacher, Mrs. Sally Olson, encouraged honest, creative writing and this was my poem on the Los Angeles riots. Age 11, Sammy Tang

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