How does a system that devalues Black lives expect the members of society to value them?

By India Walton, The Nation

Our Buffalo community is grieving right now. We’re grieving for Pearl Young, a grandmother who volunteered every Saturday at her church’s food pantry. We’re grieving for Miss Kat Massey, a dear friend of mine who would write a $10 check every month to the community land trust I ran. We’re grieving for Londin Thomas, an 8-year-old Black girl who hid in a milk cooler while a mass shooter opened fire on a supermarket full of shoppers in East Buffalo, killing 10 people and wounding three others. Londin survived, but she will live with the trauma of that day for the rest of her life. The shooter’s victims were mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunties—pillars of our community who were looked up to and loved.

India Walton
Photo by Carmen Paul Cibella Studios

Many elected officials and leaders have offered their “thoughts and prayers” to our community. But I’m going to be frank with you: If those kind words aren’t backed up with action, you can keep them.

This attack was not an isolated incident. It is part of a long history of racial terror and violence that dates all the way back to the country’s inception. Colfax, in 1873Tulsa, in 1921Rosewood, in 1923Birmingham, in 1963—and now Buffalo. Black people’s existence in this country, since we first were taken from our homes, has been marked by terror. And if we’re not working actively to undo the systems of racism and harm, then nothing in this country will change.

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