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The Buffalo Shooting Underscores Why We Can’t Ignore White Supremacist Ideology

We have to confront it.

Two Black hands clasped
By: Donna Lieberman Executive Director

We are all reeling from the horrific, racially-motivated shooting in Buffalo on Saturday that left ten people dead and three others wounded. Eleven of the victims were Black. Our hearts are with their loved ones and we must honor their memory by confronting the white supremacist ideology that spurred this brutal act of racist violence.

The 18-year-old gunman reportedly posted a racist manifesto before livestreaming the massacre, during which he targeted a grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood in east Buffalo. The livestream was taken down, but it continues to be shared on white supremacist websites.

Left unchecked, white supremacist ideology spreads and multiplies. The manifesto plagiarized a similar one written by the white supremacist who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019. And in it, the suspect expressed admiration for other white supremacist mass shooters.

The NYCLU stands in solidarity with members of the community in east Buffalo who experienced this unspeakable terror. We also know we must do more than that.

This shooting comes in the midst of a backlash against teaching students about the darker parts of American history — including the deep-seated white supremacy and racism that are woven into our nation’s earliest beginnings. The goal of this reactionary movement is to wipe away this important history, or at the very least to claim that racism is a thing of the past.

But tragedies like the one in Buffalo make it clear that ignoring white supremacy doesn’t make it go away. Racism is alive and thriving today and its impacts are deadly.

Strikingly, the anti-education bill passed in Texas last year might actually prevent teachers and students from learning anything about the killings in Buffalo. The law effectively bans educators from teaching their students about racism and dictates that social studies and civics teachers “may not be compelled to discuss current events or widely debated and currently controversial issues of public policy or social affairs” in their classes. Legislation in other states includes similar provisions.

We must fight against this backlash that is determined to strip truth out of education.

We must also step up our fight for equal rights and call out racism when we see it, as well as acts of hate against women, LGBTQ people, Muslims, and Jews.

In order to prevent more atrocities like the one in Buffalo, we can’t look away from white supremacy. We have to fight it.

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
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