Perhaps the most important difference that distinguishes the protests that have ravaged American cities two weeks ago, denouncing racism and police violence, over their counterparts in the past years, is the overwhelming presence of white Americans among the crowds of demonstrators.
The intense participation of whites who took to the streets in various cities of the United States, from Minneapolis to Washington, D.C., to demand justice for African Americans, raised many questions about its implications and causes.
The New York Times published a report prepared by two journalists, Amy Harmon and Sabrina Tairness, that highlights this phenomenon and tries to answer some questions related to it.
The report cited the opinions of many academics and personalities involved in the protests over the phenomenon, including Walter Wiggins, a retired federal worker and African American, who expressed surprise at the large number of white protesters among the crowds.
"I was surprised when I saw a lot of white youth here," said Wiggins, 67, sitting near the heart of the protests in Washington last week, and spoke about his parents' participation in the civil rights march to Washington in 1963 and other civil rights events for black Americans. "At that time, the protesters were only black-skinned," he said.
The large presence of white demonstrators among the masses of the protesters was clearly visible, and was confirmed by a study conducted by researchers in three American cities at the end of last week, and I found that the vast majority of the crowds of protesters are from the youth category, and that a large number of them are white and with a higher education.
The study, which was conducted by a team of 11 volunteers and supervised by professors from the University of Maryland and Michigan, enabled the collection of data for 195 protesters in New York, Washington and Los Angeles, is the first systematic look at the demonstrators, and the figures provided provide a rough picture of the crowds participating in Demonstrations.
According to the study, white protesters make up 61% of those surveyed in New York this weekend, 65% of protesters in Washington, and 53% of all demonstrators in Los Angeles.
The New York Times report has several reasons for the phenomenon, the first of which is that the video documenting the murder of George Floyd has terrorized Americans whose perception of the issue of race rivalry has been changing for some time, especially among white liberals.
The second factor is the opposition of many Americans to President Donald Trump, who turned out in a crowd protesting his assumption of office the day after his election.
The third factor is the outbreak of the Coronavirus in the United States and the accompanying precautions and public closures with which millions of Americans have found themselves trapped in homes and eager for human contact, including college and school students, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of white Americans taking to the streets to participate in Demonstrations.
Douglas McAdam, a Stanford University sociologist who studies social movements, commented on the current protests by saying, "What is happening now is completely different from anything we've seen before. Since the killing of Michael Brown in the Ferguson suburb of Missouri in 2014, protests come out whenever it is announced that An African American is killed by the police, but the vast majority of protesters are black Americans. "
However, participation in the demonstrations is not the only manifestation of the sympathy of white Americans with human rights issues related to African Americans. There is a wave of self-revision, a large demand for the acquisition of books on racism, and discussions within families on the subject among other aspects, but time It is still too early to know how far these manifestations can translate into a broader change.