What's lost when we consider the history of racial violence from a white perspective. On Dec. 26, 1920, a mob in my hometown of Jonesboro broke into the jail to seize Wade Thomas, a black man and petty thief suspected of having murdered a local police officer the day before. Although Police Chief Gus Craig and Mayor Gordon Frierson had barricaded the jail with the intent of defending Thomas, they did not lift one finger to defend the man when the mob finally broke through. As Frierson later told his nephew, "When the mob opened the door, the first half-a-dozen men standing there were leading citizens — businessmen, leaders of their churches and the community." We like to think of mobs as rowdy amalgamations of poor...
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The unbearable whiteness of being