It is with deep sadness that I write to you about my reactions to the mass killing in Buffalo NY at Tops Supermarket where 10 people loss their life and 3 were wounded in what appears to have been a racially motivated tragedy. Here at the Center our loving thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims including the family and loved ones of the suspect.
There are no words to make sense of this tragedy or any other whether it’s a mass killing or a single life lost. I won’t try.
Our democracy as it exists today is in danger, the MAGA Movement is real and in front of our faces every day, its mantra is white nationalism, its leader wants to make this country a dictatorship ruled by him for whites. This problem of white nationalism extends far beyond the borders of the United States. In-fact the white replacement theory began in France. What is the tipping point for “concerned” white people?
Was I surprised by this tragedy? Yes and No.
Surprised because here again the suspected mass killer is young.
Not surprised, because white supremacy messaging has become mainstream consumption for many people, the audience is large.
What is troubling, is the silence and lack of action by “concerned” “liberal” white people. This is a problem within their group visited on non-white people and others.
People of Color cannot fix this problem they can and will support and participate in transforming our society, however concerned white people in significant numbers have yet to demonstrate they understand and are committed to resolving this issue. Thus, there is questioning among People of Color whether white people can be trusted. It will be impossible to build the kinds of allyships necessary to transform our society to include all without committed white people in large numbers.
Do “concerned” white people see a threat to them and the people they love as I see the threat to me and the people I love?
Thoughts + Emotions determine Behavior leading to Outcomes is a simple model. I thought about this model in reference to the suspected mass killer. This is not a professional opinion or conclusion, rather it comes from what has been reported:
Thoughts and Emotions: radicalized by white replacement theory creating a perceived threat; Behavior: prepare to and kill the enemies of his group; Outcomes: death, destruction, unimaginable pain, trauma, for families and loved ones including his own. 10 people dead 3 people wounded and one young man’s life altered forever because of a lie.
Is there a large segment of whites who feel that the changing demographics are a threat to them?
I feel pretty certain that Payton S. Gendron, 18 years of age, did not receive an honest and truthful education about his country’s history or his connectedness to all of humanity, had he perhaps he would not have become radicalized and make the decisions he did.
You, me and others may be unsure what needs to be done, but that should not stop us from engaging in serious problem-solving endeavors to find out and develop strategies and solutions to eradicate white supremacy mythology and protect the youngest amongst us from those corrupting messages.
The work we have been doing in the Finding Your Voice Program, concerning teaching a more accurate account of US history is appropriate, important and necessary.
Finding your voice in this conversation is essential, using your understanding and compassion is crucial to bringing others along.
I must remind myself at times like this, that the Dock C. Bracy Center for Human Reconciliation is embarked not in a sprint to a finish line but rather a marathon of personal and societal transformations and that I am a significant piece of the transformation as you are. We need to lay the foundation together for others to continue and complete the transformation.
I don’t presume to know how you’re feeling.
I’m telling you how I feel, parent to parent -- human to human. My heart is aching, my jaw is clenched and my anxiety level is high.
I'm writing to you about my parental instinct.
This past weekend, my family and I had the privilege to visit a very scenic area in my state. It's also primarily white. Restaurants, parks, mini-golf, markets — all almost exclusively white spaces.
I am white and my children are black. They are also teenagers.
One son loves to plan ahead — food, activities, purchases, etc.. He also loves watching video gamers on Twitch, a live streaming service that focuses on video games. This weekend, he had already asked to go to an arcade (picture Chuck E. Cheese) that we love to visit when we visit this area. "Absolutely," I said.
When we got back to where we were staying on Saturday night, my husband and I heard the news about the mass shooting in Buffalo.
"Honey, I need you to stay off Twitch," I said to my youngest son. "A white supremacist shot people and broadcasted it." "OK," he said.
The next morning, as planned, we headed to the arcade. We got there right when they opened, so we were the first ones in. The boys got tokens and ran in separate directions to their favorite machines, while I'm sipping my coffee and noticing what new machines were installed. A couple minutes later, the door to the arcade opened and in walked about five young white men.
Suddenly, I was on high-alert. Whatever the parental alarm that sounds when there is a perceived risk was blaring in my head. Where were my children? For the next few minutes, I bounced back and forth trying to keep an eye on the group of men and my children. Where is the nearest exit? What can I throw? Will I be able to keep them safe? Then, they were gone. The group had purchased their activity tickets and had gone on.
What just happened? Is this what black people feel like in white spaces? Breath. Is that how white people feel when they see my teenage sons or any black person?
Is the great replacement theory (GRT) activating some base instinct? Do white people really believe that their existence and their progeny is at risk? Apparently, they do and I was blissfully unaware.
On Monday, Michele L. Norris wrote:
"GRT is like the fertilizer that feeds and sustains white fear when America’s racial makeup is changing. These trends will continue and how that is explained — or alternatively exploited — will impact the safety and security of all Americans."
Source: The Washington Post, Opinion, May 16, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/16/white-americans-speak-against-great-replacement-theory/. At 18, the shooter — the domestic terrorist — was so fearful that he and his whiteness were going to be replaced, he planned to kill as many black people as possible. He felt so threatened that he killed ten black people and would have continued, had he not been stopped? My parental instinct did exactly what it was supposed to do. Continually do threat assessments. My heart is doing what it is supposed to do too. What is your heart telling you?