This blog post is by Connecticut Health Foundation President and CEO Tiffany Donelson.
The racially motivated shooting at the Tops supermarket in Buffalo last weekend hit home for me. Buffalo is my hometown, where I grew up from age five until I went to college.
I never would have thought anything like this could happen in the Buffalo where I grew up – and yet it did.
Like most cities, Buffalo has struggled with race relations, but there always seemed to be a sense of Buffalo pride, a feeling of community that crossed racial lines. I worry that in recent years, this has fallen away across our country and in my hometown, that we are seeing reversals in the gains made to build a stronger sense of community and to improve the safety of people of color. I worry about the backlash that seems to follow any advances in racial justice.
Most of my time is spent in conversation with colleagues, partners, and friends who share similar values, who take as a given that racial justice must be one of our top priorities, and that racism is one of the most fundamental problems we face as a society. Sometimes we disagree about strategy, approach, or even language, but we operate within a shared set of values and a shared understanding of the problems we face.
This shooting was a jarring reminder of how much work we have to do. People who share the deeply violent and racist views of the shooter might never change their minds, but there are far more people who are in the middle, who do not fully recognize the way racism shows up in our society, the way we still live with the legacy of policies and practices designed to treat people differently. There are others who might know but don’t care enough to do something about it.
I am certain there are many people who are rightly horrified by the killings in Buffalo but perhaps have not considered the ways in which people of color face discrimination, prejudice, and the fear of racist violence every day. For us, even if Buffalo isn’t home, events like this still hit home.
As we mourn those who were killed, I hope those who feel outraged and saddened in this moment will take the time to consider how they can commit to anti-racist work in their own communities. For those looking for a place to start, this collection of anti-racism resources is one of many that could help you begin or deepen your commitment to this journey. This is a journey that must continue and must include all.