We Stand in Opposition to Hate and Extremism
This blog post is a statement from United Way President & CEO Gordon McHenry, Jr. and United Way Board Chair Dave Burman in response to the recent tragic shooting in Buffalo, N.Y.
When people of different races, religions, ethnicities and ideologies began living among one another for the first time, they did so without a primer; there was no set of instructions, no manual or how-to book that outlined how we should coexist.
But when you consider the scourge of bigotry, violence, fear, hatred, false narratives and identity-based oppressions we’ve inflicted on our world, we could fill the Library of Congress with books on what not to do.
At some point, we will craft a narrative of the times we live in for our posterity. How will we explain for the history books Saturday’s massacre in Buffalo, N.Y., where an 18-year-old white man, armed with high-powered weaponry and a mind to murder Black people, drove three and a half hours to the city’s most racially segregated neighborhood and took ten lives while wounding three others—all while streaming live on the web? How does a nation growing more polarized each day even attempt to pull itself together while hate speech, lies and conspiracy theories become more and more compelling to too many–especially too many young adults?
At United Way of King County, we believe and embrace the notion that the ties that connect us are so much greater than the forces of fear, hatred, false narratives, identity-based oppression and violence. We grieve with and for all who have been murdered and injured, their families and communities, especially those in Buffalo, New York.
United Way denounces all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, homophobia and gender-based violence. We cannot, and will not, be satisfied with treating the Buffalo tragedy as merely the actions of an outlier: Our people are being conditioned to hate at young ages, before they have the chance to embrace the idea that we are all created equal and endowed with matchless potential and the capacity to love.
We must resolve and function as one nation in opposition to hate and extremism. We can’t begin to reach the great potential of our country until we see, listen, and love our Indigenous, Black, and other peoples of color. These horrific racist acts of violence diminish us all and are a grievous injury to the soul of our nation. The Buffalo massacre reflects the growing normalization of racial and politically motivated violence in the U.S.
We can’t begin to reach the great potential of our country until we see, listen, and love our Indigenous, Black, and other peoples of color.
We must work to fully comprehend the historical roots that drive these tragedies and result in patterns of poverty, education and housing disparities throughout our country—not only nationwide but including here in King County. Understanding how deeply rooted racism is in America’s past and present is critical to understanding the results of policy decisions and investment decisions.
We are all responsible for crafting a narrative that relegates such hate to history. We must act now, before tragedies like that of Buffalo anesthetize us with their frequency and normalcy and leave us virtually unable to understand the words of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”