Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

what does papa mean when he says "this thing's been coming a long time,... and T.J. just happened to be the one foolish enough to trigger it."

it has to to with Roll of Thunder; Hear My Cry. chapter 12

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Papa is referring to the explosive situation that the family is in. Papa means that it is not simply TJ robbing the store that everything has come to a climax. TJ is simply the trigger or spark that has ignited all the pent up racial and economic tension in the community. The family had organized a boycott of the Wallace store. The whites linked to this store wanted some "payback" for this. T. J and the two masked white boys were reason enough to blame everything on Mr. Morrison, papa and, symbolically, the black population. As well various white interests wanted the family to give up their land .A few men, including the now un-masked white boys who actually robbed the store, show up as an ugly lynch mob.