The Black Student Alliance is outraged and devastated by the racist terrorist attack that was perpetrated by Payton Gendron in Buffalo, New York on Saturday, May 14th. We stand in solidarity with the families and the victims: Aaron Salter, Ruth Whitfield, Pearly Young, Katherine Massey, Deacon Heyward Patterson, Celestine Chaney, Roberta A. Drury, Margus D. Morrison, Andre Mackneil and Geraldine Talley. These individuals were mothers, fathers, grandparents, community members and so much more. Their deaths have not only impacted their loved ones but have certainly left the Buffalo community and Black communities across the country in a state of grievance. This is not a one-off event, but a pattern and history of gruesome violence and hatred against Black bodies. This continued assault on our bodies, our being and our identities is simply exhausting.
It is exhausting having to advocate for the value of Black people on a consistent basis. It is exhausting wondering if the next White supremacist attack will take place in your city. It is exhausting having to wake up expecting to see another Black body brutally murdered for the simple reason being they are Black. It is exhausting inhabiting a politicized body, but it would be inaccurate and a disservice to circumscribe our existence as a people to merely trauma.
You cannot divorce the lineage of Black people in this nation from activism. The history of Black people is that of a people faced with the most brutal violence and subjugation. However, despite this brutality, it is also a history of Black people who confronted and faced those evils with a desire to reach this nation’s ideals of freedom and bring it to their children for generations even yet to come.
If there is anything that this tragedy showcases, it is that we are still far from achieving the equity we seek. It is despicable that in a country whose history is rooted in the victimization of Black bodies, that we continue to allow the deaths of beautiful Black souls by another White man filled with deep-seated hatred–a man who not only took pride in his racist manifesto, but livestreamed the massacre for public viewing.
It is insufficient to declare this a wake-up call. Empathy and compassion towards Black lives is not only an expectation, but basic human decency. To achieve justice will require the efforts of all people, not just those with Black skin. Similar sentiments have been expressed for decades. Now is not the time for realization but mobilization. It is the responsibility of us all to hold one another accountable for our actions.
The Black Student Alliance will continue to advocate for equality in this nation. The resilience of the Black diaspora is one that rings from every corner and every crevice of this world, and this resilience does not pause when bigotry comes knocking around the corner. White supremacy is a wicked disease that continuously tries to belittle and destroy the Black body, but try as it might, it will not take our joy. It will not take our happiness. And it will never take our light.
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