Make no mistake, America IS filled with racism from sea to shining sea. We are NOT post-racial, and we are NOT on a unified path to reconciliation and self-healing. We are fractured, broken, and loaded with 18-year-old shooters ready to annihilate Black people all over this country.
Buffalo was only the latest tragedy that make my work as a diversity professional that much more challenging. Ten innocent "brothers and sisters" were going about their Saturday shopping activities, only to be slaughtered by a young White boy filled with hate and violence.
All of the victims were Black. That included 55-year-old retired police officer Aaron Salter, who quickly fired on 18-year-old Peyton Gendron but was outgunned by a heavily armed Gendron, who killed Salter in the line of duty.
We call the roll of the other nine Buffalo citizens whose only "crime" was the color of their skin. They could have all been my relatives, friends, church members, or clients. All dead because of a young monster radicalized on his mobile device and/or laptop.
THEY WERE SHOPPING WHILE BLACK
Pearly Young, age 77
Not only a dedicated substitute teacher, church leader, and missionary, Ms. Young ran a food pantry for 25 years.
Deacon Heyward "Tenny" Patterson, age 67
A friendly "jitney" driver, providing transportation to and from Tops Friendly Market to those who needed a ride home with a safe and reliable "brother" in the neighborhood. Playwright August Wilson's production titled "Jitney" addressed the lives of these unofficial, unlicensed taxi cab drivers who operate in Black and Brown neighborhoods around the country. As a child in Detroit, I vividly remember the friendly jitney drivers taking customers home after shopping at the A&P Grocery Store in my neighborhood. I have greeted jitney drivers when I shop in Boston neighborhoods. They are the cornerstone of the community.
Ruth Whitfield, age 86
Wife and mother of Former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield. She had just visited her beloved husband in the nursing home and merely stopped by Tops to grab some food to eat.
Katherine Massey, age 72
Former journalist for the Buffalo News, spirited and described as a "beautiful soul" by her sister Barbara Massey.
Celestine Chaney, age 65
Beat cancer and loved her six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Roberta A. Drury, age 32
Had relocated to Buffalo to care for her brother, who was battling leukemia, surgeries, and bone marrow transplants. She was an avid fan of Whitey Houston.
Andre Mackneil, age 53
Described as a beloved father, brother, uncle, and friend. Mackneil stopped by Tops to pick up a birthday cake for his three-year-old son.
Margus D. Morrison, age 52
Family man and school bus aide Morrison had gone to the grocery store to pick up chicken for dinner.
Geraldine Talley, age 62
She visited the Tops Friendly Market with her fiancé, Gregory Allen, to pick up bologna, cheese, and iced tea. They split up to pick out their food items when the 18-year-old monster entered the supermarket and started shooting. Gregory Allen survived. His beloved Geraldine Talley did not. Allen described the massacre this way:
"I had to duck and everything," Allen said. "Because the bullets are flying, so I had to dodge bullets, and I went inside the cooler. When I went into the cooler, the guy just went past me by like an inch. He would have shot me. I was lucky he didn't shoot me."
Three other victims survived their gunshot wounds and now live to tell the story. That includes Zaire Goodman, age 20, Jennifer Warrington, age 50, and Christopher Braden, age 55.
The ten who were targeted and died were decent human beings so familiar to all of us and could have been our neighbors, cousins, friends, or Sunday School teachers.
There are so many layers to this tragedy that I need to write several articles to cover them all. The abandoned investigation on the shooter, who was questioned for his irrational behavior in high school. The shooter bored during the Pandemic and transformed into a raving white supremacist as a result of it. The countless opportunities to find racist websites online that provide an open recruiting field for those easily sucked into their hateful and violent tactics.
The parents…..WHERE WERE THEY?????? What kind of parents don't know when GUNS, ammunition, and bulletproof armor are kept in the bedroom of their 18-year-old son?????
The white supremacist groups sprouting up like weeds all over the internet that provide manifesto templates ready for the asking.
How can some condone Replacement Theory and denounce Critical Race Theory????
I could go on. And I will in upcoming articles.
This tragedy was only the latest in a worldwide network of fringe groups seeping into mainstream culture. Their growing power is a threat to democracy and decency. They must be contained and destroyed before their hatred kills us all.
If your head is still spinning from the sheer horror of Saturday's spectacle, read what the 18-year-old mass murderer said in his 180+ page manifesto. These are the words of Peyton Gendron:
"Blacks, on average, have a lesser IQ due to restrictions of their brain development. They are prone to violence and common criminal activity. We must remove blacks from our western civilizations."
We're in big trouble, America. This is not a Black problem. Nor a White one. This is an AMERICAN problem, embraced and courted by the right wing of the Republican Party and destroying the hopes and aspirations of many in the Black community.
Yes, it is open season on Black people. Sadly we've been the target of White power since slavery. Buffalo was only the latest violent scene of hatred and racism on steroids.
Finding new opportunities for diversity, equity, inclusion, and multiculturalism are the only ways we will find the exit strategy out of this slippery slope of extinction.
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.