“Everything here is racist”: Buffalo shooting district reflects on reasons for violence | Buffalo shooting

Under sunny blue skies and as a cool breeze blew across Lake Erie, the Buffalo East Side neighborhood of Kingsley was both transformed by a determined resilience from a day earlier, when 10 people were shot by a 18-year-old white supremacist, and still full of anger as people continued to cry.

There was an outpouring of grief, coupled with fear, from residents gathered on one side of Tops Friendly, the grocery store where the murders took place, and which was now marked off as a crime scene. But on the other hand, these emotions were accompanied by prayer vigils, gospel songs and the strength derived from faith.

In between, the residents of the neighborhood came together as, for now, a community only beginning to negotiate what had happened to them when the white shooter so brutally attacked them.

Some saw the roots of the violence against the black community in a deep mistelling of history in America and a deep-rooted prejudice against it that still reverberated in everyday existence. After all, an analysis by the University of Michigan found the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metro area to be the sixth most segregated in America. Meanwhile, a 2021 report from the University at Buffalo found that measures of health, housing, income and education have improved little for the city’s black residents and, in some cases , had declined over the past three decades.

“We want deep story be taught, for the truth to be told, and for all this racism to stop,” said jazz promoter Denise McMichael-Houston. His cousin, Ellen Lucas, an educator in the city, said: “The problem is that they won’t teach the correct history in the schools. I lived in this town for 72 years and everything here is racist. We have this one supermarket.

Lucas said 24 hours after the assault his mother was still vomiting at home because she was so upset and unable to leave the house.

Asked how a tragic event like this – one of a series of racist massacres in America in recent times – could be turned into hope, Lucas said: “History was taught correctly, tell the story how it happened. We were brought here as slaves, the whites enslaved us because we are black and nothing else. We need to know our contributions, and that would change our view of ourselves.

“If I go to a restaurant, the first thing I have to do is make white people feel comfortable, smile and smile, and be who I’m not.”

On this side of the supermarket, the anger was palpable. On the other, where the religious and spiritual leaders had settled, less.

Reverend Rita Anderson-Bailey, who runs the counseling service Renovated Soul Marriage and Family Therapy, offered a parallel approach to understandable rage. “There is a place for anger, and for peace and calm. When we don’t have answers, we must rely on faith to help us cope. It has been going on for generations,” she said. “The part of the anger is when we start holding our leaders accountable.”

But others said they would rather just leave the area. At a nearby Family Dollar, 18-year-old employee Nonni Walker, a community college student, said she had to work a shift, but her intuition told her not to come. “There is so much craziness. So wait for the next madman and pray that you are safe during this time. For her generation, she said, the solution was “not to be near here”.

And then there’s the matter of the supermarket, the only black grocery store of its kind in this Buffalo neighborhood. Without it, the neighborhood would again be deprived of groceries. Some said it should be turned into a memorial. Then there’s the issue of gentrification, which eats away at the neighborhood’s periphery with the displacement and disruption the process entails.

“If you increase property values, you create fear in people who don’t want to come back to their own community and they leave,” said local activist Shango Oya. “What would improve the neighborhood is real economic redistribution and accountability of political power for the money it spends.”

Hours earlier, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul visited the area and urged social media platforms to crack down on white supremacist content. She said she found it inexcusable that the attacker’s live graphic feed was not removed “in a second”.

The attack, said Tone Arrington, 27, would teach him how to talk forever. “Personally, I will never sit down and shut up. I want people to see what’s really going on in our world and in our community.

Not far from there, an eight-year-old girl had just silenced onlookers by singing a full gospel.

“It shows you what she’s learning at home,” Arrington said. “And then we have this 18-year-old who comes here and shoots all these people, and it shows what he was taught at home, and what he was taught to believe, and what his parents instilled in him. Do you hear what I’m saying? It doesn’t stick. »

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