Why Racial Violence Keeps Happening: An American Tragedy at the Dollar General


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Esau McCaulley, The New York Times

A memorial for the victims of the shooting at the Dollar General in Jacksonville, Fla. (Cristobal Herrera-Ulashkevich/Shutterstock)

When I was a child, I loved going to the Dollar General. It was the one place I could pick out any toy I wanted, confident that my mother wouldn’t turn me down because it was too expensive.

I would wander the aisles looking for the perfect item, often settling on a clear plastic water gun or the brown paddle with a red ball attached to a string. I was not particularly good at the game; the slippery little ball would careen this way and that, never quite hitting the sweet spot in the middle. It didn’t matter because the toys from Dollar General didn’t usually last very long.

I do not know what took three African American people to the Dollar General in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday. It could have been toys, food, medicine, cleaning supplies or some other low-cost item. I do know they were brutally killed there, and I know that the suspect in their killing was a white man who reportedly had swastika markings on his AR-15-style rifle.

These three people didn’t die because someone hated Dollar General any more than the Black people in Buffalo perished because some madman had a beef with the produce department, or any more than Ahmaud Arbery lost his life because of fury at runners. The three African American people at the Dollar General were killed for the same reason the Black churchgoers of Mother Emanuel were slain. They died because they were Black in a country that still produces white supremacists intent on hatred and death.

Read more of McCaulley’s opinion piece on the tragedy in the original article.

Explore this virtual exhibit to learn about the Black lives lost from historical lynchings.

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