It took only eight months to go from a nation that voted for a black president two terms in a row to one that is suffering from race riots and killings, with officials having to send troops out on to the streets and declare a state of emergency. The speed with which it happened is the clue that it was in fact happening all along, unseen. And the fact that it was lying in wait is an indicator of how little racial equality is prized in the United States’ DNA.
Race has long been a problem in the US. It didn’t start with Trump.
The Cincinnati riots of 2001 were caused by the killing of 19-year-old African-American Timothy Thomas by white police officer Stephen Roach, who was subsequently acquitted on charges of negligent homicide. The 2014 Ferguson unrest occurred against a backdrop of racial tension between police and the black community of Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of the police shooting of Michael Brown; similar incidents elsewhere such as the shooting of Trayvon Martin sparked smaller and isolated protests. According to the Associated Press’ annual poll of United States news directors and editors, the top news story of 2014 was police killings of unarmed black people, including Brown, as well as the investigations and the protests afterward. During the 2017 Unite the Right Rally, an attendee drove his car into a crowd of people protesting the rally, killing 32-year-old Heather D. Heyer and injuring 19 others, in what police called a deliberate attack.