I grew up white and lower-middle class in Mississippi when black people in the South were rising up to claim their rights after a century of Jim Crow supression. My state's segregationist leaders insisted black Southeners were happy with the status quo until "outside agitators" riled them up with lies and Communist propaganda. As if they needed some organizer from New York or Wisconsin to point out the indignities and depravations they experienced every day indignities. The same bogus rationale is being recycled today. Racism in this country is still real, and Donald Trump's stokes it as effectively as George Wallace ever did, if not as overtly. I openly and strongly denounce looting, arson and other crimes being committed in the name of protest. But if you're going to be outraged by such acts, at least have the decency to be as incensed by the cruelty and dehumanization that Americans of African heritage have endured, in one form or another, since before we were even an independent country.

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Mississippi native, award-winning veteran of The Orlando Sentinel, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Newsday, stand-up storyteller, lives in Athens, Ga.

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