I do not feel ok, so I’m going to do the one thing I have always done to feel better, I’m going to write. I have always been a tough girl. I grew up considered a tomboy and fought tooth and nail to get myself out of toxic circumstances. I usually tell people that I am a good organizer because no one is going to intimidate me after all I have overcome. At this moment, however, I do feel intimidated and scared.
Over the weekend a hate-filled white 18-year-old boy traveled 3 hours to come into the Buffalo community and shoot 13 people at the Tops on Jefferson. Jefferson Tops is where I used to go for supplies when I worked at the Buffalo Museum of Science. This Walmart brand terrorist shot 11 black community members and 2 white community members. This hate flavored twinkie cost 10 people their futures:
Aaron Salter Retired BPD officer who fought back
Ruth Whitfield wife and mother picking up groceries
Roberta Drury who moved to Buffalo to help her brother with leukemia
Deacon Hayward Patterson who leaves behind a wife a daughter
Pearl Young Buffalo Public School teacher
Margus Morrison father of 3
Geraldine Talley mother, aunt, sister, & fiance
Zaire Goodman, Jennifer Warrington, and Christopher Braden were all injured during the hate crime.
Say. Their. Names.
As pointed out by the PPG article A City Divided: A Brief History of Segregation in Buffalo, our city is plagued by racial & economic segregation. Segregation isn’t just us living in factions, it’s the erosion of health, education, job access, wealth, standards of living, and economic mobility.
While some may find it difficult to see this crime as a race issue, I see it as a very intersectional modern-day lynching of the most influential people in our community, our caregivers. Our caregivers are the people in our community that allow the working class to sustain themselves and the next generation to be raised. This population is typically women, therefore this is not only a race issue but a women’s issue. This mayonnaise monster was targeting our black women. He was able to maximize the number of deaths because he targeted the only grocery store in the middle of a food desert defined as ‘an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food.’ Food deserts are an environmental and health issue. He knew exactly where people would be because we lack the business investment to be able to go anywhere else.
The fallout has left families reeling and organizers trying to determine the best course of action when we all want and need different things. His actions are rippling across Buffalo, highlighting all the divides we already had while creating new ones. Now I’m sitting on my couch after being given a few hours off of work to cope because racists are threatening stores all across Buffalo trying to insight fear into people of color. Where do WE go from here when I’m not even sure where I go from here?
If we walk away from this with only thoughts and prayers, it’s only a matter of time before the next massacre. I think we need to start with what we know. For me, I know how to care, I will be offering love and support to anyone who needs it then I will offer trips to grocery stores for anyone who needs it in the area during my free time. Next, I have to take it to organizing, burnout or not organizing is what I do. I’m going to hit the streets for the issues. Everything is political, and those of us who “don’t get political” well that just means you have had the privilege of being kept comfortable by the system or you haven’t realized your own self-interest. How will you rise up in the fight for Black Lives?