An Historian’s Thoughts on the Uprisings in Our Cities

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By Mark Naison (May 30, 2020)

As an historian, I am am hardly surprised at the uprisings taking place in cities throughout the country.

The murder of George Floyd pushed people filled with rage at their position in Trump’s America over the edge.

It is not just that repeated murders of unarmed Black men and women, by police or self appointed security agents, had convinced many Black people that most whites signed off on policies that terrorized their communities, it is that they saw the rhetoric and policies of the Trump Administration as a daily assault on their safety and security.

In the minds of many people of color, it is wholly predictable– and profoundly infuriating- that a country that could elect a race baiting demagogue like Donald Trump would sign off on the murder of unarmed Blacks, and never send those responsible to prison

Think about it: you are living in country where gun toting, Nazi and Confederate flag waving whites are cheered on by the President while unarmed Black men and women are shot down in the streets and their own homes, and where immigrant children of color are put in cages.

If you think that experience wasn’t making people unbelievably angry, you are ignoring the lessons of history.

At some point, I suspected, that anger, which I know well because I feel it inside myself, was going to break loose. George Floyd’s death may have been the spark, but there were a long chain of grievances which have come to the surface in its wake

I do not know where these uprisings are going, nor how they are going to end.

I do know they have been a long time coming.

Anybody really LISTENING to what their Black/LatinX friends, colleagues,neighbors and family members have been saying over the last few years, in response to provocation after provocation, should hardly be surprised at what is taking place in the streets of our major cities.

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