After years of revival and resurgence, the nation’s largest metropolitan areas are now being squeezed by external threats and an internal eruption along their deepest fault line—one that could fracture their political influence in the years to come.

America’s cities have already faced almost four years of persistent hostility from President Donald Trump, who has reviled them as dirty, chaotic, and dangerous and pursued many policies contrary to their interests. Then this winter, the COVID-19 pandemic hit hardest within dense population centers, including not only central cities, but also their inner suburbs.

Now the nationwide protests and disorder following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have clearly exposed the crack in the foundation of cities’ new prosperity: the persistence of racial inequality and segregation amid that economic revival.

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