This week is one spent in mourning.
On May 14th, it was reported that 18-year-old white supremacist Peyton Gendron committed an act of terrorism targeting Black Americans in Buffalo, New York. He live streamed the carnage on the live-video site Twitch. Prior to the slaughter, Gendron wrote and posted an 180-page manifesto. In which, he established his motive in a retelling of what is commonly known as the Great Replacement Theory, the idea that white people are being systematically and deliberately outbred and replaced by ethnic minorities. He took the lives of 10 innocent people, injured 3 more, and assaulted the well-being of Black students who are working hard to complete the semester, Black staff who are preparing for our summer programs, and Black alums who are leading and serving families and communities across the United States.
A slur was on the barrel of his gun.
In 2015, Rick C. Wade wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post, reflecting on a past act of terrorism: the shooting at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston. He wrote about “our need to take off our masks and address the pain of America’s racial past if we are to get to a place of real reconciliation.”
“For some Black Americans and other minorities, our mask is our unspoken anger, disguising our deep disappointment, and reining in our resentment over a still-evolving history of racial insult and injury—all in the name of coping and getting along with the larger white community,” he wrote. “For some white Americans, their mask is the willingness to overlook the racial disparities that still persist in our society: recoiling at the sight of #BlackLivesMatter, disregarding legislative attempts to curtail our vote and denying the economic disenfranchisement that holds many of us back.”
Our Turn strives to be a place where we can share feelings of anger and pain, and where we can recognize darkness and injustice, not just in our history, but in our immediate present. It is also a place where student leaders and activists strive to make a difference -- so something like this may never happen again. Being a community means that in times like this we hold and lift each other up. You may need time or support in response to yesterday’s news; please don’t keep those needs to yourself.
While violence of this magnitude is beyond comprehension, we know it is a manifestation of tension and rhetoric that members of our community experience every day. It is in opposition of this hatred and alienation that Our Turn works and seeks to do better.