Roberta A. Drury, Margus D. Morrison, Andre Mackneil, Aaron Salter, Geraldine Talley, Celestine Chaney, Heyward Patterson, Katherine Massey, Pearl Young, Ruth Whitfield.
According to reporting by CNN, these are the names of the souls who lost their lives in an evil act of racist violence in Buffalo over the weekend. Like all of you, our hearts are aching today for these individuals—the vast majority of whom were Black—who died as a result of hatred and bigotry that has been allowed to fester for far too long. And our hearts are aching for all those who were injured or traumatized, for their families and the community around them, and for our entire nation too.
These events are despicable. They are shocking. And yet it would be a stretch to call them a surprise. In fact, they are far too common. And they are intrinsically linked to a broader set of dynamics in our communities which we, as organizations that are built to serve, can and must step up and challenge.
- We must understand how the shooter was radicalized, and how the misguided idea of ‘white replacement theory’ has gone from a fringe talking point of Neo-Nazis to a regular topic of misinformation on mainstream current affairs talk shows.
- We must learn to differentiate between legitimate sport and dangerous weaponry—including access to tactical gear that rendered the bullets of ‘a good guy with a gun’ ineffective, and apparently cost security guard Aaron Salter his life.
- We must find balance in terms of technology and social media between protected free speech on the one hand, and safeguards against platforming hateful and extremist violence on the other.
- And we must also continue to dismantle the discredited ideologies of race that seek to divide our populations and maintain privilege for some, while holding others down.
Like many of you, Redwoods has been on a journey over the past few years to live into our potential as an anti-racist organization. And like you, every now and then, we will hear from those who tell us to “stay in our lane.” Yet this atrocity in Buffalo underscores what we already knew:
This work is inseparable from our broader mission to create safe communities for all.
We live in an America that is increasingly diverse, and increasingly mixed. This reality strikes fear and resentment into some, who see even incremental gains for non-white communities as an erosion of their own status in society. For most Americans, however, these changes are a sign that we can indeed live into the promise of our nation.
Our diversity is our strength. And it is the source of our safety. Let us come together to act, in whatever ways are authentic and sustained, to defeat the evils of racism and white supremacy once and for all.