It is once again, that our nation is subjected to another mass shooting. This one occurred in Buffalo, New York. A young male white supremacist targets a predominantly black community and walks into the community’s greatly fought-for and highly prized grocery store killing 10 and injuring 3 others. As we find out more about the young man’s life it is clear his plans, his motivations, and his agenda were deeply rooted in white supremacy’s rhetoric and theories espoused by some of this country’s most outspoken white nationalists who dominate cable news outlets and social media platforms. These articulations are consumed by many who hear these messages as calls to action perpetrating violence and terror in ways that harken back to a time not long ago were many in black communities remember all too well.
Lone gunmen who walk into spaces armed to take out as many black people as possible. Armed gunmen amped up on the great replacement theory, in a cool and calculated way perpetrating mass murder raining terror down with seemingly no regret, no remorse, no heart. And in the aftermath, we are left stunned, upset, sad, pained, and mad all at the same time. These all-too-familiar trends seem to be on the rise, with this tragedy in Buffalo looking eerily like those incidents of the last several years. Recalling the 2015 attack at Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, and the 2019 attack at a Walmart in a Hispanic neighborhood of El Paso to name a few.
And again, our response, marches, rallies, and vigils as we hold public sacred space as one outlet for public communal grieving alongside our organizing efforts to right these wrongs via advocacy and public policy.
And yet there is something unsatisfying and painfully pessimistic about the continuation of these kinds of catastrophic events in this country. And that much of what underlies the nature and practice of these events is a very powerful religious presence and tone that lingers and is very disturbing to recognize, acknowledge and admit. Derrick Bell noted legal scholar, writer and activist pointed out, “In my writing, I have focused on the economic, political, and cultural dimensions of racism, suggesting its permanence because of the social stability it provides in a system that contains great disparities in income and wealth… But I want to raise…the possibility of a deeper foundation growing out of an undeniable fact. Most racists are also Christians.” According to a published report from the Brookings Institute in Spring 2021, “this concern about white supremacists is overdue, as is the need to address it, but the threat requires a sober response that neither minimizes nor exaggerates its nature and extent.” The ties between white Christian nationalism, white supremacy/racism, and outright hate are too glaring to ignore.
We’ve got to do something!!!
No more can we be complacent! No more can we lay idly by while this train runs off course to more devastating ends. Dr. King said in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider.”
There is a better way to live. Those of us who are freedom fighters seeking that better way must work with greater commitment and more determination for the coming days leaning into our faith and asking for Divine help. Will you join us?
Lady Pamela and Bishop John Selders
Lady Pamela and Bishop John Selders, Co-Founders of Moral Monday CT