'This is different:' Historians say these George Floyd protests are positioned for real social-justice change

Friday, June 5, 2020
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'This is different:' Historians say these protests positioned for real change

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Psychologists and historians say this global uprising after the police-custody death of George Floyd is familiar but also unusual.

"Yes, there were lynchings in the time that I was growing up, but there was no outrage outside of the black community. Look at the outrage now. Across this nation. Across the world where white, young people are walking side by side with black people," said Dr. Rupert Nacoste professor of psychology at NC State. "This is different."

This week, Nacoste released the book "To Live Woke: Thoughts to Carry in Our Struggle to Save the Soul of America."

The book challenges readers to confront bigotry and racism in their communities and inner-most circles.

"Are you willing to organize, are you willing to go to a city council meeting, are you willing to engage people in the conversations in your community?" Dr. Nacoste asked. "That's how you live woke."

WATCH: Full interview with Dr. Nacoste and Dr. Tyson

Many experts and historians contend that people's outrage over Floyd's death should turn into different strategies for mobilization and local, state and federal policy changes.

Dr. Timothy B. Tyson, a Historian for the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke said we're in a better position to bring change than past generations.

"James Baldwin says we live in history, but history lives in us," Tyson said.

Tyson's message to everyone watching the uprising over Floyd's death, especially those who are not black: stop being afraid, ashamed or guilty when speaking about racism -- even at protests.

"They can't not show up and say that it's not my place and I'm uncomfortable that's just inadequate," Tyson said. "I find that racial discomfort, which we all feel, or when it's our time to say our piece, racial discomfort is an educational environment. It won't hurt you. Lean into it a little bit. You can think ... why am I feeling that?"