Buffalo Shooting

An Open Letter to The America of the Buffalo Shooting

An Open Letter to The America of the Buffalo Shooting

“A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation. Any fact of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America.” President Biden on the massacre in Buffalo otherwise known as, the Buffalo Shooting. 

The land of the free and home of the brave. A nation founded under the principle that all men have been created equal. A democracy built to uplift the needs of the people and protect the most vulnerable among us. America, born out of a dark past now steeped in marvelous light, the world’s perfect melting pot. For over a decade this has been the resounding national narrative of this country. One that’s placed emphasis on all the glorious “progress” made since the White Lion’s landing in 1619, sequestering racism off as a thing of the past. This has served as America’s most coveted creed and also its greatest lie. For racism and white nationalism are not the demons of American antiquity, but rather are the woven fabric of the nation, the foundation for which it stands and the air for which it breathes anew today. 

On Tuesday, May 14, 2022 an 18-year-old white man by the name of Peyton S. Gendron drove to a grocery store in a predominantly Black area in Buffalo, New York, and killed 10 people in a racist mass shooting. The deliberate act of racially motivated violence was streamed as sport or comic on Twitch, a live streaming service. Prior to the shooting, it is reported that he not only premeditatedly visited the area in early March but also is currently being investigated for ties to a 180-page racist manifesto. It is easy to believe that Gendron acted alone. Soothing to think that these are the actions of a singular person, tied to some internal evil or lapse in morality. That Gendron was deranged, his actions a reminiscence of those horrific days so long ago. But the truth is Gendron has never been alone. He’s been supported by the years of oppression that live on today, by the state-sanctioned murders of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Walter Scott. Upheld by the system that ripped Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark, and Breonna Taylor from their families and this world. Coddled by the same bodies that later knelt on the neck of George Floyd, Gendron, dressed in camouflage and tactical gear, was a mere soldier in an ongoing fight to diminish the lives and liberties of Black people in this country today. 

Racism is what built the towns of the 1600s. It’s what stoked the fires and cleaned the kitchens of white southerner’s homes. It is what filled the pockets of slave owners and their descendants, creating the racial gap that we see in America today. It’s what quietly denies Black people access to fair housing and jobs they are more than qualified to do. To think now that this country was built on anything less than racism and the founding principles of white nationalism is not only inaccurate but ahistorical. 

The shaping of race itself, its definition, and what it means to be considered Black in this country was born out of the need to enslave the mixed babies of Black women pre-abolition. The county’s notions of private property, wealth access, and current-day business management sprung from the financial institutions behind slavery and the treatment of the enslaved. America’s societal pillars from politics and citizenship to self-defense and punishment were born from the racism baked into the foundation of America itself. So do not tell me Gendron acted alone. Do not tell me racism is not what this country stands for because history time and time again reveals this falsehood. It reveals that the only thing antithetical and abhorrent to American ideals is true freedom, true access, and true equality. 

Whenever an instance of racial violence occurs it becomes a national narrative to turn to the founding principles of America. To state that this country serves as a beacon of racial hope and to understand that these violent acts are not us, that these violent acts are not American. But in truth, these violent acts are very consistent with the history of the America of yesterday and today. America has continued to foster legislation that reinforces racism, politics that deny access to Black, brown and marginalized communities. Even laws that deny people the rights to their own bodies and the autonomy of choice. It is no coincidence, no singular lapse or misstep, but rather a cyclical system that continues to compound and duplicate on itself. The shooting in Buffalo and the racism of America must be acknowledged as equal parts of violence and equal parts American in order to truly bring forth an America of equality. 

Acknowledging America for what it is and the racism it perpetuates allows us as a society to identify points of change. It allows us to speak truth to power and analyze the failings of the past and present transparently and in their totality. America is rotten, flawed to its very core and it is okay to say that. It is okay to live in the uncertainty that is the current-day racial climate. It is okay to address Gendron as not a singular force but as one of the many effects of the racism of our policemen, our town officials, our democrats and republicans, and even in our white house. It is okay to address America as it is, for this is the only way we can get to the freedom dream we so boldly claim is here today. So we must go through it. Go through the public shame of racism, not hiding behind fancy semantics but calling it out for what it is. Go through the ways in which minuscule acts of racism on a daily basis, from colorism to “professionalism” standards on Black hair, contribute to a larger system. We as a nation must grapple with the fact we are not who we claim to be, in order to become that which we so desperately desire. 

The land of the free and home of the brave. A nation standing on the principle that all men have been created equal. A democracy built to uplift the needs of the people and protect the most vulnerable among us. An America, born out of a dark past now steeped in marvelous light. I believe we can be that if only we dare to say we aren’t.

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