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Op-Ed: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge []

Los Angeles Protesters were among those who turned out in cities across the U.S. on Saturday to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

...The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness — write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change — the needle hardly budges.

But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting. Just as the slimy underbelly of institutional racism is being exposed, it feels like hunting season is open on blacks. If there was any doubt, President Trump’s recent tweets confirm the national zeitgeist as he calls protesters “thugs” and looters fair game to be shot.

...So, maybe the black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19.

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I had to share this op-ed. It is important for people to understand that while we as Black people do not condone the rioting and looting, looking back over the history of the United States, we are still seeing the same crimes played out against us in the 155 years since "freedom" was declared. Folks say move on, don't dwell in the past, but if you know anything about trauma, it's in our DNA. We're tired. It plays out on a daily basis. If you don't live it, you don't understand it. Don't be so quick to judge and condemn our actions. Try to understand where it's coming from. Get outraged, not at the riots and looting, get mad and outraged that it had to come to this. 

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