Washington, DC (May 17, 2022)—Racist acts of terrorism have become all too common in the United States, and on Saturday, May 14th, we learned of another act of white supremacist violence—this time in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, NY. Ten of the murdered men and women were Black (read more about the victims, whose names deserve to be said, remembered, and honored). This most recent act of racist domestic terrorism fills us with sadness and anger—sadness for the victims and their families and loved ones, and anger that we live in a nation that perpetuates and encourages racist violence.
The Buffalo shooter joins the ranks of many, many other young, White men in this country, whose hatred is encouraged and emboldened by politicians, hate groups, and throughout the media. They frequent message boards like 4chan—where the gunman posted his racist manifesto—join hate groups, believe in conspiracy theories, and consume media that feeds their misplaced hatred and insecurities. At its core, white supremacy is driving this extremism, not just through alternative media and hate groups, but because it is deeply rooted in our country and our institutions.
Despite a slow reckoning with the historical roots of racism that has begun to take place over the last several years, this brand of racism appears daily in the public discourse. No longer kept behind closed doors, this racist rhetoric has found its way into the light, showing up throughout all types of media, in schools, and even on the floors of Congress; it should come as no surprise then, that it is influencing many people and spurring them to dangerous action.
While this crime will be investigated as a hate crime, how many more shootings, how many more manifestos, how many more radicalized children will it take to make us recognize the threat that is being fostered and nurtured within our borders? We are facing a political moment where efforts to dismantle white supremacy are being publicly and regularly attacked. The growth of efforts across the nation to dismantle educational opportunities like critical race theory, to demonize those working towards an equitable nation, to ban books, and to turn anti-racism and equity into dirty words is a cause for great alarm. Individually and collectively, we must speak out and denounce white supremacy.
We mourn the 10 lives lost in Buffalo and grieve for the fear, pain, and horror experienced by the three survivors and all those who lost loved ones on Saturday. We also hold the Black community in Buffalo, and across America, in our minds as we grapple with yet another reminder that people of color cannot expect safety even when doing a task as simple as grocery shopping. As a nation, we are on a dangerous and deadly path that we cannot ignore. Instead of fostering an environment that breeds violence, we must instead work to build a society in which our children are taught compassion, kindness, and the responsibility to confront our nation’s legacy of racism. Only then will each of us be safe in our grocery stores, houses of worship, schools, and communities.
About CSSP. The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) works to achieve a racially, economically, and socially just society in which all children, youth, and families thrive. We translate ideas into action, promote public policies grounded in equity, and support strong and inclusive communities. We advocate with and for all children, youth, and families marginalized by public policies and institutional practices. Learn more at www.CSSP.org.