What Does Rodney King’s Death Symbolize – Are We All Really Getting Along?

Over the weekend the black motorist turned activist Rodney King was found at the bottom of his swimming pool, early Sunday. According to reports, the San Bernardino County coroner will perform an autopsy on King within 48 hours to determine the cause of the death. As more rumors and conspiracies continue to come about, the debate of Mr. King’s contribution as a civil rights leader is still a debatable issue for some.

At the time of the King’s brutal beating, I was barely old enough to understand ramifications of not working together. I only knew I had to share my paper with someone who forgot to bring his or her paper to school. However, after having different experiences and studying about civil issues, I have learned that sharing with my fellow peers was only the first step in building relationships.

King’s upsetting treatment caused us to wake up. Regardless of polarized judgments, assertions and even commentary, the generation of discussion about race relations is something we all must examine. It is important with the amount of social groups and sub-cultures to understand prior civil events. Incidents like the beating of King become different narratives that help convey the story of our American history. Not only do these events convey American history, they also illustrate how social implications can inspire change.

Slight change.

After many years people still recall the mournful cry of King whose vicious beating by members of the Los Angeles police department was caught on video. “Can We All Just Get Along?” was a phrased uttered by King in a time of much turmoil and disparity.

Minus the havoc, Friday, April 29, 1992 will always be a significant date because it put race relationships and unnecessary force from police in front for everyone to see. During the Los Angeles riots sources reported over $1 billion in damages and more than 50 people died. Not only could the ramifications of the King incident be quantified but these experiences can also be qualified. Once the four officers accused in the beating were acquitted a year later by a predominantly white jury, all the rage of citizens quickly turned into the worst single episode of urban conflict in American history.

Now we are in the year of 2012. Has race relationships improved in America? Certainly not much but I like to think they have gotten better. If you define better as blanketed statements that reflect ignorance and intolerance, sure. There is always room for progression. To confront these issues we have to reflect on past experiences within our culture. Growing up beyond the years of formal segregation and being afforded the opportunity to apply or attend any institution of my choice, excuses of not interacting with other cultures have become obsolete. It is important to engage with people who necessarily don’t identify with those you are familiar with. These interactions encourage growth about various cultures outside of our backyard. Relationships in everyday life help manage our connection to society.

Even after his death, we must still visit his question of, “can we all just get along,” when it comes to race relations. Are we really so different that we all cannot just get along?

Drew-Shane Daniels is the editor-in-chief of MUSED. He is also a contributing writer for other sites to help pay his student loans. And a branding and content strategist. He loves tacos, dark liquor and Dr. Pepper.