May 18, 2022
What happened on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at Tops on Jefferson, was unequivocally, a horrific act of terrorism caused by unchecked white supremacy and an unregulated obsession with guns, which, go hand in hand. The victims- our Black brothers and sisters- Margus, Andre, Aaron, Pearl, Geraldine, Celestine, Roberta, Heyward, Kat, and Ruth. My thoughts are with them and their loved ones.
While this tragedy has been devastating to the city of Buffalo, I am proud and grateful, that we, Buffalo Public Schools, prioritize and value diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am grateful for Dr. Fatima Morrell and our Office of Culturally & Linguistically Responsive Initiatives leading the work of a culturally responsive, anti-racist, and historically accurate curriculum. I am grateful to the many teachers who embrace this work with our students. My two white sons are and will be better people because of it.
In this time of crisis and trauma, we must facilitate spaces to listen to our youth, for them to hear and listen to each other. It isn’t always what we say, as adults, that matters most; it’s how we listen and let them speak and be heard. At the same time, we must have the courageous and honest conversations about white supremacy, racism, and hate with our youth. If we want a better world for our all of our children, race must be part of the conversation. As I told my boys, 3rd and 6th grade, a White man driven by hate murdered 10 innocent Black people. We must not hide it and be afraid to say it.
To our parents, teachers, and staff in our schools, you continue to endure trauma and fear. I see you and feel your struggle. It was not easy sending my boys off to school on Monday, one less than a half-mile from where the tragedy occurred. I send you strength and love as we now deal with vile actors trying to stoke fear with baseless threats on social media. Please know that the Superintendent and staff are working tirelessly to ensure that our children are safe in our schools. I see and feel their care, concern, and urgency. Many of them worked long hours over the weekend; Dr. Cassandra Wright was on the ground at the scene all day Sunday.
Last night many of our suburban friends rejected fear and hate and elected candidates who support a public education for all students. It is the responsibility of all- public, private, parochial, urban, suburban, rural- to confront and eradicate domestic terrorism, radicalized hatred, white supremacy, and false historical narratives at the root.
Please keep in mind that many of our talented staff are Black and from the community that this tragedy occurred. While having to go above and beyond in their work, during this time of crisis, they are doing so with their own level of personal struggle and trauma, that I cannot pretend to discern. Keep this in mind when you might have the inkling to sound off on social media. Social media is exasperating the hate, fear, and violence. We must avoid this trap and embrace compassion and unity, while trying to achieve a safe, loving, and inclusive world.
Buffalo Board of Education
Click here for: Resources Surrounding the 5/14 Tragedy