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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Boyd: A trip to the grocery store shouldn’t be a death sentence, but it was

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Roberta A. Drury, 32, Buffalo, New York.

Margus D. Morrison, 52, Buffalo, New York.

Andre Mackneil, 53, Auburn, New York.

Aaron Salter, 55, Lockport, New York.

Geraldine Talley, 62, Buffalo, New York.

Celestine Chaney, 65, Buffalo, New York.

Heyward Patterson, 67, Buffalo, New York.

Katherine Massey, 72, Buffalo, New York.

Pearl Young, 77, Buffalo, New York.

Ruth Whitfield, 86, Buffalo, New York.

Those are the names of the 10 people killed in a massacre perpetrated by a racist intent on ridding the U.S. of Black people.

Zaire Goodman, 20, Buffalo, New York.

Jennifer Warrington, 50, Tonawanda, New York.

Christopher Braden, 55, Lackawanna, New York.

These are the names of those who were injured in that same massacre at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York. Most of us have heard of this incident by now. We also know the name of the perpetrator, and we will forever know his name. It will live on infamy. I want us to know their names, too.

Much of our collective attention is focused on the perpetrator — and rightfully so. An 18-year-old who makes a trip several hours away, dressed in tactical gear and with the expressed intent to kill Black people deserves a lot of attention. I will not write his name in this column, though.

But those lives that are now forever changed deserve attention as well. Families are grieving, confused and angry at how such an atrocity could happen.

I imagine many of them are in disbelief at how a trip to the grocery store could result in death.

The grocery store is supposed to be a safe place, heck every place should be safe, but the grocery store shouldn’t be a place where I need to go suited, booted and strapped. I’m not thinking about getting shot as I pick out the best-looking bunch of bananas or Gatorade flavors. I’m in the store minding my business, trying to get in and out as quickly as possible.

This isn’t the first shooting at a grocery store where the perpetrator targeted Black people. I’m much more alert at the grocery store than I used to be, but I’m still not on guard the entire time I shop. How can you be? There are too many things happening at once. Even if I shopped with my guard up, it’s definitely dropping while I put my groceries in the trunk. What about moms and dads with little children? How does one watch out for shooters while children are asking for Rice Krispy Treats or trying to sneak their favorite cereal into the cart?

People love to talk about what they would do in these situations as if the victims are culpable in some way because they weren’t ready. Who’s ready for someone in tactical gear from head to toe — the perpetrator had on a helmet, people! — while they’re grocery shopping? Even the security guard who was a retired police officer wasn’t ready for this type of ambush. You and your weapon are no match for someone prepared to kill and ready to die.

Instead of talking about what we would do, we need to turn our attention to the real problem of white supremacy and eradicating it. Yeah, I know it doesn’t exist in these United States, but you can keep believing that if you want to. Meanwhile people like this perpetrator are here to remind us that racists live among us. White supremacists are as young as 18, and some of them live in your household and you don’t even know it.

FYI: Black people calling out racism isn’t the problem either. That didn’t create the problem.

White supremacy doesn’t have to be blatant either. In fact, most people aren’t as bold as this teen or others who proudly wear their racism on their sleeve. Most people hide behind of the guise of colorblindness and neutrality. You know the parents who don’t want their children learning critical race theory because it makes their children feel uncomfortable or those who only quote the part about the “content of your character” from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

The people in this group help keep white supremacy alive. They deny its very existence all the while believing they are better and benefiting from it. This denial provides cover to the bold ones. They hear the dog whistles, and they are more than ready to protect those who lack the courage to be bold in their racism. It festers and grows in the dark corners, just waiting to step into the light. We saw that this weekend. We’ve seen it before then. We’ll see it again and again, until we stop burying our heads in the sand and address the white supremacy among us.

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