May 20, 2022
On Saturday, May 14, 2022 an 18-year-old male white supremacist, outfitted in body armor, and carrying a semiautomatic rifle with the N-word painted on the barrel, a shotgun, and a hunting rifle, entered Tops grocery store located in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, NY and opened fire on shoppers while livestreaming the event on Twitch. In the aftermath of this carnage, thirteen people had been shot, eleven of them Black.
Ten people were killed. The names of those killed were Roberta A. Drury of Buffalo, N.Y., age 32; Margus D. Morrison of Buffalo, N.Y., age 52; Andre Mackneil of Auburn, N.Y., age 53; Aaron Salter of Lockport, N.Y. – age 55; Geraldine Talley of Buffalo, N.Y., age 62; Celestine Chaney of Buffalo, N.Y., age 65; Heyward Patterson of Buffalo, N.Y., age 67; Katherine Massey of Buffalo, N.Y., age 72; Pearl Young of Buffalo, N.Y., age 77; and Ruth Whitfield of Buffalo, N.Y., age 86.
While the details of this act of white supremacist terror are still emerging, it has been revealed that the accused had made his views known to many. In a series of online statements over the past five months, including a one hundred and eighty page “manifesto” espousing white-supremacist beliefs, largely copied from far-right extremism venues such as 4chan, the killer railed against those he called “replacers.” Replacement theory – the belief of far-right white racists (nationalists, Nazis, Klu Klux Klan members, and other white supremacists) that high birth rates among Black people and open immigration policies will one day lead to the end of America’s white majority – has been a regular theme circulated by FOX NEWS, and has been mainstreamed into the largely-white GOP and white communities throughout the U.S. The assassin stated that his goal was to “kill as many Blacks as possible.” And he had intended to continue to kill more Black people after the carnage at the Tops supermarket.
The Association of Black Anthropologists condemns, in no uncertain terms, this act of brutal racist violence. Yet we know that Black people have, from the time of their enslavement, suffered persistent and barbaric racial terror in the U.S.: the lynching sprees of the early 20th century, the violent destruction, including bombings, of Black communities, genocidal police abuse, other vigilante terror such as the 2015 assassination by a white supremacist of the congregants of Mother Emmanuel Church in South Carolina. These are but a sample of the types of racial violence against the US Black community, and they are more than matched by structural racial violence in the form of economic and social inequality, mass incarceration, inadequate health care, and so on.
As Black anthropologists, we know well that this latest attack on Black people is a symptom of the larger structure of white supremacy upon which this country was founded. In fact, the Association of Black Anthropologists repeatedly issues statements decrying the devastating impact of white supremacy on our communities – and the world.
We call on all anthropologists to not only condemn the Buffalo attack, but to also recognize that this individual act of racist violence is a symptom of a society, and an unequal world, structured through white supremacy. It is no accident that the global far right and neo-Nazi movements are becoming more popular, and attacks against nonwhite and non-Christian communities are increasing. We must treat the disease and not the symptom, and address both the individual and mundane, and the structuring violences that continue to affirm the dominant position of whiteness at the expense of the nonwhite peoples and communities.
In closing, horrific events such as these are reminders that we must not be inured to the normative antiblack violence of the United States. We must also remind ourselves that Black people, wherever they live, must continue to struggle for our right to live lives of dignity and to be free, one day, of the scourge of White supremacy.
You can donate to the following organizations supporting the families and the community devastated by this tragedy:
Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund: https://nationalcompassion.org/fund/buffalo-survivors-fund/
Feed More WNY: https://www.feedmorewny.org/donate/