A Racist Massacre in Buffalo

buffalo Mass shooting
Memorial outside Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York (Kent Nishimura, Los Angeles Times)

Payton Gendron, an 18 year-old white man from a small town in New York, armed himself with military-style gear and drove to Buffalo to kill as many Black people as he could. He chose a particularly busy time at a popular supermarket in a Black neighborhood, shooting 13, ten of whom died.

Just imagine being a shopper there, in a hurry with things to do, maybe bringing your children with you, when someone opens fire. This is racist terrorism.

Though he seems to have acted alone, there is nothing unique about the racism he espoused. Gendron had written a so-called manifesto espousing white supremacy to justify his actions, repeating the ridiculous claims of right-wing extremists about a conspiracy to replace white voters with immigrants and racial minorities. This is the same kind of racist claims that the Nazi Party made in Germany to try to justify the genocide of Jewish, Romani, and other people.

The United States of America was built on white supremacy, which aimed to justify the enslavement of Africans and the genocide of indigenous people in what Europeans called “the new world.” White supremacy — the belief that so-called white people are biologically and culturally superior to all other people in the world — is still a major political force in the U.S.

Many white people in the U.S., along with many Black people and other People of Color, especially in the working class, are justifiably angry that they have lost jobs and income, that the government has bailed out banks but not homeowners, that health care is so expensive, that school funding is terrible, and that the government lies about all of this and more. Yes, they are justifiably angry. But for many of them, their anger is infected with racism and pointed in the wrong direction — against Black people, immigrants, women, LGBTQ people, and others who are also victims of exploitation and oppression. Our anger should be directed at the people who control the society, who use their mass media and social media to pit us against each other, and who laugh all the way to the bank while we fight each other — the capitalists, the One Percent. They are our real enemies. They use white supremacy and all forms of racism to divide us against each other so we won’t unite against them.

If we really want to solve our problems, from climate catastrophe to inflation, we must reject the lies that the bosses promote to divide us. We must learn to stand together against their system that is the source of the horrific violence all around us.