• Lesley Joseph

Remembering the #BuffaloTen

Aaron Salter.

Ruth Whitfield.

Katherine "Kat" Massey.

Pearly Young.

Heyward Patterson.

Celestine Chaney.

Roberta Drury.

Margus D. Morrison.

Andre Mackneil.

Geraldine Talley.

These are the names of the ten (10) people who were gunned down by a racist, white supremacist on Saturday, May 14, 2022. They will be forever remembered as the #BuffaloTen.

I really did not want to write anything about this. I tried so hard to look past all of the reporting, all of the discussion, and all of the calls for "things to be different". But I cannot keep silent any longer. As someone who lives in South Carolina, this act of domestic terrorism is too similar to the murders that occurred at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. The deliberate, planned, targeted, violent, racially-motivated, hate-filled attack on black people who loved their communities and served their fellow citizens with love, honor, and integrity.

But something else really struck me about the Buffalo mass shooting that has not gotten enough attention: Tops Supermarket.

Tops is not just any supermarket in the Masten neighborhood of Buffalo, NY. It has been described as a hub for the community. A place to gather with friends and local community leaders. It was also the ONLY supermarket in the neighborhood. A recent article just came out about the struggle to get a supermarket in this predominantly black neighborhood. And now, because of this violent, white supremacist mass shooting, the hard-working people in this community have NO place to buy fresh food.

Environmental racism strikes again. This time, it takes the form of a food desert. A food desert exists when a person lives more than 1 mile from a large grocery store in urban areas and 10 or more miles in a rural area. (Sidenote: The USDA published an extensive report about the characteristics and factors of food deserts. You can click here if you want to read, although it would be a waste of time, particularly since they refuse to acknowledge the racism that permeates the proliferation of food deserts around the country.)

So let's review the situation here. We have a predominantly Black neighborhood (which is that way because of historic racist zoning and housing practices):

  • that fights to get ONE supermarket (because they do not have one in their neighborhood because of racism and prejudice towards the residents)

  • finally gets ONE supermarket after intense lobbying, activism, and pressure from the residents

  • just to have it targeted by a violent, murderous racist who kills 10 fellow citizens

  • leaving the residents with (among other things) lost loved ones and no place to buy food anymore.

It is truly amazing how pervasive, damaging, and systematic the anti-black racism is in this country. If you're black in America, it takes your health. If you're black in America, it takes your economic resources. If you're black in America, it takes your only grocery store. And it can ultimately take your life.

Truly amazing.

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