buffalo. Another senseless loss of life at the hands of a hate-filled White boy. Another piercing reminder of how dangerous life can be for Black people living and working in the United States in 2022. I’d imagine most psychologists, if one cared to conduct the research, would agree that our long-standing ability as African-Americans to be resilient and not seek revenge in the face of so many white supremacist acts is rather mind boggling. So many family members and friends being lynched and murdered over the years for just being Black is sickening. Will Buffalo be the game changer? I doubt it. What I do know for sure is that Black people’s trust of systems providing us safety from white nationalism is wanting and that White boys need serious attention. Now.
Being a race and racism educator provides me with the platform and motivation to examine how our systems and institutions operate to promote advantage for White people. Spending more than eight years (longer than my doctoral studies) learning a racial analysis and the full history of the USA with the Racial Equity Institute has been a blessing. The fundamental concepts shared inspire me to continue on this life long journey of study and activism for racial healing and truth-telling. That is, I hurt when my people experience unnecessary harm and death by cowards, but I am not surprised. This response to the Black body and mind, the Black being, is actually rather predictable. Since our country’s founding, the greed by White elites to maintain power and control has been the impetus to create policies, manipulate fragile minds, and behave in ways to keep our populace separate and at war with one another. The latest manifestation is to sway insecure White people with CRT: Crazy Replacement Theory.
We have all witnessed the attacks by uninformed or misguided White people who seek to ban books and limit the teaching of our nation’s social studies and history curricula. This ploy is just one cunning tactic employed by the most powerful (ie, one-percenters) to maintain their lock on the economics and politics in this nation. Greed is a very potent toxin. The rise in a belief of suddenly “losing control” to non-Whites has strategically been pushed with the result that mentally unstable White people are choosing to pick up firearms to remove Brown and Black people in public spaces. (American Jewish people receive no pass either due to their culture, religion, and connection to Asia and Africa.) The evolution of this behavior is such that now the evil-doers no longer hide behind hoods, robes, and the dark of night. These Aryan, Neo-Nazi, Klansmen, and white supremacists plot and execute their brand of hate in the daylight using social media, Fox News falsities, and immigration myths to terrorize Americans. Chants of “You/Jews will not replace us” and demonizing the Democratic party as those who are championing the idea of a Brown and Black America overtaking the country is a way to drive a wedge between all citizens. Interesting how their memory clearly recalls and wants to reinstate a time in which they as a minority had little concern with any form of pushback from all citizens. And yet, their ability to also remember how they gained that power over a majority is easily forgotten. That is, how did European Whites come to this country as a minority and then become the majority? Through disease, extermination, theft, violence, and genocide. Strangely, we sometimes refer to Whites as if they were always in the majority! Let’s teach that, my friends.
Keeping Americans apart from one another. Sound familiar? This horror of race-baiting mirrors the same alarm used by the 17th century White colonial ruling class or property owners when laws were passed to prevent Whites and Blacks from uniting against the unequal labor and living conditions. With the influx of eastern and southern European immigrants, the racial categorization of White was created not so much to control Blacks but rather to command and discipline these European Whites from bonding and recognizing their common interests with the indigenous and Black peoples. Perhaps with this understanding of power, all peoples who were struggling to survive would work together and organize to disrupt and dismantle the unequal and inequitable system. Hello, remember Bacon’s Rebellion from your history class?
Today, these same American “aristocrats” and oligarchs have clearly mapped out a detailed plan to control the minds of young people – White boys. The narrative of “us vs. them” is being instilled in children. And then these unknowing youth grow up with a connection to an identity that is fearful of anyone who does not share the same complexion or culture. This blueprint imitates the guileful work of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, founded in 1894, as they sought to control youth by engaging them in activities that would solidify their allegiance to Confederacy tenets. The Lost Cause, a concerted effort to change history by portraying the South’s purpose for war and succession as glorious and noble, grew to become much more than galas and memorials. The Children of the Confederacy chapters were formed to actively engage youth in “call and response” memorization competitions of the Lost Cause rhetoric, singing southern patriotic songs, monument reveals, and visiting southern soldiers. This indoctrination is the fuel that burns today as children are raised with hatred in their hearts.
So, what can be our response to this racist terrorism? Besides the “thoughts and prayers” mantra we need more imagination in how we can remove politicians who don’t support sensitive gun control and anti-racism education. A reimagination of what mental health services and policing can and should do for the community must be priority considerations. According to new CDC data, gun-related homicides increased by 35% from 2019 to 2020. The ease of purchase of semiautomatic assault weapons and how we enforce gun laws must be questioned if we truly care about human life. Continual economic pressure on corporations and sponsors who align with businesses (eg, media and sports) that allow bigotry, perform perfunctory activities, and ignore discrimination is an effect way to stop hate. We’ve mobilized to move major sporting events from various geographic locations in the past. We, the will of the people, can do it again.
We also need to find ways to empower conscious White people to speak to uneducated White children. Refer to these youth as innocent children, renegade teenagers or confused young men and women. Regardless of the nomenclature used, these humans are broken, lost, and in search of belonging. Certainly, the tragedy of Buffalo was carried out by a devious and calculating adult who must be removed from our society. The work of White anti-racism advocates such as Robin DiAngelo, Peggy McIntosh, Tema Okun, and Tim Wise should not be overlooked. Rants about centering whiteness in justice advocacy completely dismisses the importance of the necessary labor and effort required to inform Whites of their role in creating and fighting for an unprejudiced and just world. As conscious White people, these courageous leaders’ work is focused on the evolution of White people. That’s a good thing.
The science of convincing White boys that zero-sum gain is true, whereby any advances by People of Color causes Whites collective harm, must be challenged and come to an end. We must stop the brainwashing of White boys so as to that they are willing to kill innocent Blacks all in the name of a contrived reality. There is no self-defense or stand your ground argument to provide escape for this boy who plotted and then drove hours to Buffalo to inflict death. In fact, we now know that the assailant was troubled and had been hawking the company or party line over the past year.
Research informs us that we coddle White boys. In the very alarming report, Breaking Schools Rules, which investigated the relationship between juvenile justice and student success, researchers found that White students are the anti-target in classrooms. That is, they are less likely to receive discipline when authorized personnel are given the option to do so. This pattern of giving White students the “benefit of the doubt” is problematic in many ways. In particular, without receiving the necessary discipline and counseling children can grow up without respect for authority and a mindset of “no correction needed.” Mixing this independence psyche with alcohol, drugs, white supremacy, or relaxed gun regulation is a time bomb waiting to explode. The eruption harms all of us.
Earlene Patterson, 64, who purchased milk and other food items from the Tops grocery store in Buffalo days before the attack, stated that “the pain is in our DNA at this point. It’s in my great-grandfather, my father. It’s in me.” As a nation, this longstanding agony and torture must be recognized and addressed as it causes harm to our being as Blacks – psychologically and physiologically. At some point nature tells us that the ability to mask the anger and rage will become unbearable. Harlem Renaissance intellect, Langston Hughes, forewarned us as he avowed, “Negroes, sweet and docile, meek, humble and kind. Beware the day they change their minds.” Tick, knock…
“Never Too Far” contains perspectives and insights from an inquisitive and engaged Orange County transplant from Philly. Deborah Stroman is an entrepreneur and UNC leadership professor who has seen too much and not enough, and thus continues to question and explore the thoughts and actions of humankind.
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