Washington CNN  — 

The books are flying off the virtual shelves: “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,” Robin DiAngelo; “So You Want to Talk About Race,” Ijeoma Oluo; “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” Michelle Alexander.

Social media streams, meanwhile, are filled with white Americans learning about the power of supporting black-owned businesses, and sharing reading lists and podcasts that address racism – and their responsibility to be not just not overtly racist, but anti-racist.

News coverage of the systemic racism afflicting America is being devoured.

But nothing here is novel. For decades, and centuries, black Americans have been attempting to make the country’s deep-seated inequality legible through the language of resistance.

Over the past week, people across the country have been assembling to condemn the killing of George Floyd by former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin. These expressions of outrage don’t exist in a vacuum. Despite media coverage that’s tended to obfuscate righteous anger, the protesters’ gaze is trained less on one officer than on the sin itself: white control that’s long dehumanized black Americans while insisting that it’s acting in their interest.

“We need to reckon with our history of racial injustice,” Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal-advocacy organization, told The New Yorker on Monday. “I think everything we are seeing is a symptom of a larger disease. We have never honestly addressed all the damage that was done during the two and a half centuries that we enslaved black people.”

Perhaps it’s a matter of social change finally meeting a moment. The protests are more diverse: It’s not only black Americans articulating their fury, though it’s certainly led by them.

Former President George W. Bush (and his parents’ namesake foundation). Televangelist Pat Robertson. Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. These are some of the white voices, across the political spectrum, speaking to white audiences, saying that enough is enough.

“There is something different here,” former President Barack Obama said during a virtual town hall on Wednesday. “You look at those protests and that was a far more representative cross section of America out on the streets, peacefully protesting, who felt moved to do something because of the injustices that they have seen. That didn’t exist back in the 1960s, that kind of broad collation.”

Is the white establishment at last hearing the concerns of black Americans, who’ve been making their pain – their exhaustion with this pain – clear for years? Maybe. But these figures also seem to be trying to draw a distinction between themselves and one of the darkest manifestations of racial division, crystallized in the moment when President Donald Trump strutted to a church for a photo-op with a Bible after law enforcement ferociously dispersed a peaceful protest demanding racial justice.

Whether this broader momentum will continue in the days and weeks ahead or be smothered by narratives pointing up supposed chaos remains to be seen. But whatever happens, at least one thing is certain: We tried to tell y’all.