Today, we are experiencing deep pain and unparalleled indignation upon learning of yet another act of white supremacist terrorism that has claimed the lives of 10 Black residents in Buffalo, New York. As the world tries to respond, grieve, and heal from the ongoing devastation of COVID-19, Black folks continue to face an older pandemic that destroys communities by fueling long-standing systems of deprivation and abhorrently maintaining historical inequities. The age-old pandemic we are referring to is racism, and we are once again left heartbroken due to the violent, extremist ideologies that it conceives.
Data from the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics reveal that hate crimes have reached their highest levels in more than a decade. Anti-Black sentiment accounted for the largest rise in offenses, with more than 56% of race-based hate crimes targeting African Americans. Violence against Asian-Americans has also increased. Combined with the fact that we have experienced a dramatic increase in mass shootings—more than 200 shootings in 2022 alone—we can no longer stand on the sidelines as a new generation of white supremacist terrorists are radicalized, and ‘replacement theory’ is further cemented into the spaces in which we work and live.
Many of these shootings, as in Buffalo, or El Paso, Pittsburgh, and South Carolina, are not random acts of lone individuals who suddenly lose touch with reality—they are planned, deliberate acts of political violence fomented by racist ideologues. They often target communities and individuals already harmed by long-standing structural violence. We were struck by this passage from an essay by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor:
“For decades, Black life has been seen as disposable. Buffalo is one of the poorest cities in the nation, and the poverty is concentrated in the neighborhoods with the largest Black populations. Racism there comes not only in the form of a teen-age white supremacist murdering Black people at a grocery store. It is also evident in the policies that encourage disinvestment from public schools attended by Black students, in the annual failure to develop affordable-housing policies, and in the continued use of fees and fines that disproportionately impact Black residents.”
As noted in Tuesday’s presidential address, we, too, urge everyone to reject the poison of white supremacy and counteract the violence—both physical and structural—that it begets. It is a disease that, as Eddy Gonzalez writes, “mutates and spreads through systems, ideologies, and language.” We can transcend the notion of simply offering thoughts and prayers to the victims of the Buffalo massacre by moving to act at our respective organizations, in our communities, and together to:
- Call out injustice—Organizations can use various communications platforms and mediums to publicly speak on these grave injustices, and condemn the hatred, intolerance, and violence that racism incites. This not only reinforces societal opposition to unjustifiable behaviors, it also helps provide employees that belong to diverse racial groups a safe space in which they can work and thrive. Remember, silence can be deafening, so a failure to call out racism can cause unintended harm.
- Convene—Calling out racism can be followed through with strategically assessing your organization’s role in either perpetuating white supremacy and racial injustice, or advancing racial justice and equity. Authentically investigate the equity footprint of your organizations by convening impacted populations and incorporating their lived experiences into tangible solutions.
- Invest and Fund—Use data to inform policy change, initiatives, and advocacy efforts that can effectuate change at the individual, community, and societal levels. This can include a host of actions: from the development of racial dashboards that incorporate specific ESG goals, to investing in training to increase your team’s awareness of and response to inequity in the workplace and beyond. Your organization can also donate to local Black-led organizations—like Fruit Belt Community Land Trust, Rooted in Love, and Black Love Resists in the Rust—that are on the ground in Buffalo assisting the community to heal and counteract all forms of structural and physical violence (special thanks to J Coley, a PhD student and instructor at University of Buffalo, for these recommendations). See below for other ways to support Buffalo residents.
Channeling the strength of Black folks and other historically marginalized people to unapologetically speak truth to power, we lead and support movements that we not only radically believe in and passionately dream of, but are innately accountable to. So when anti-Black racism shows itself, we translate a denial of equity into showing up for Black life. It is our hope that we can encourage you to do the same.
Alexis & Rishi
Here are a few ways you can support the Buffalo community:
The National Compassion Fund is a subsidiary of the National Center for Victims of Crime, the nation’s leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them. In partnership with Tops, the National Compassion Fund has established the Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund to provide direct financial assistance to the survivors of the deceased and those directly affected by this tragedy.
Many parts of Buffalo are considered food deserts. This made Tops market an affordable, local staple that many residents depended on for low-cost food. In response to its indefinite closure, Feed Buffalo—a Black women-led organization that provides residents of Buffalo with access to free, locally-sourced, healthy food—is working to provide the community with food in a loving, judgment-free community space. Donations to support these efforts can be made using the link above.
To contribute to funeral expenses, GoFundMe has listed a number of verified crowdfunds working to alleviate the financial burden on impacted families.
Learn more about groups organizing for structural change surrounding racial justice or gun violence: