On Saturday in Buffalo, New York, 10 people were killed and three others injured in a racist massacre of gun violence. This attack was planned and perpetrated by a white, male gunman espousing a white supremacist ideology, echoing too many tragedies that have taken place in recent years. Almost all of the victims were Black, and the shooting took place in a primarily Black area of Buffalo.
Our hearts are breaking at the tragic loss, and we join so many others in grief, anger, and mourning. We especially hold our Black and African American colleagues in our thoughts, including those in the Buffalo area and beyond.
We must resist the temptation to view the shooter’s actions as those of one individual acting in a vacuum. The manifesto he published espoused a white supremacist ideology similar to the shooters in other recent racially-motivated attacks, and the so-called “great replacement theory,” a staple in far right media outlets, has been pushed by elected leaders. In the case of the massacre that took place this weekend, the gunman drove across the state to a city where there would be a high number of Black people; he chose Buffalo, one of the most highly-racially segregated cities in the U.S., the result of decades of systemic racism that has disproportionately impacted Black residents across multiple measures of housing, income, health, and education.
There is a difference between the racialized terrorism of what took place in Buffalo and other mass shootings, but we recognize the impact on our members and institutions of the trauma created by gun violence in the U.S., where 201 mass shootings have already taken place in 2022. Gun control will be discussed in the coming weeks and months in response to this shooting and other fatal shootings that occurred over the weekend. But it is clear that the greater threat is the grooming of adolescent, white men toward violence through white supremacist propaganda.
Racialized violence and systemic racial inequality in this country are deeply woven into overlapping structures, including education, and change requires a combination of strategies engaged simultaneously on multiple levels. This work must not fall solely on the shoulders of Black people and other people of color. White people must join as allies in condemning racial violence and as committed partners in action and organizing.
As we have done before, we call on our white members, and on higher education overall, to examine and learn the history of white supremacy in the United States, condemn racialized violence, and take action to break down systemic barriers.
- Reach out to Black and African American colleagues - without the expectation that they respond.
- NASPA’s African American Knowledge Community offers community and the opportunity to connect with others engaged in addressing anti-Blackness on our campuses and communities.
- Download and share “Moving From Words to Action: The Influence of Racial Justice Statements on Campus Equity Efforts” released this year by NASPA and NADOHE.
- Encourage your campus to join or increase engagement with AAC&U’s TRHT Campus Centers whose purpose is to foster engagement around the issues of racism, bias, inequity, and injustice in our society.
- Encourage your students to register and vote in local and national elections this year and to support candidates who commit to taking action on issues of racial equity. For ideas see the 2020 Voter Friendly Campus Report published by NASPA and the Fair Elections Center.