Grief is a concept difficult to define. But when tragedy strikes, such as the senseless slaughter of 10 African Americans in Buffalo, New York, we know precisely what grief is and how it makes us feel — heartsick and helpless with few solutions to cauterize the pain. This is a “here-we-go-again” moment because we’ve certainly experienced it before. Black folks killed by a well-armed domestic terrorist who embraces white supremacist ideology. And then afterward, the community and nation mourn, search for answers and begin prayers and rituals for the dead.
Yes, we’ve seen this moment before, where we contemplate personal safety and live with the deadly impact of xenophobia. I don’t remotely have answers or immediate solutions. But I know as a community of friends dedicated to serving those in need, we must do more than send thoughts and meditations. They are not practical social justice tools in combating institutional racism. Instead, we must resolve that enough is enough. Strong legislation is necessary to deal with assault weapons and to reach the dark crevices of the internet, so another radicalized 18-year-old doesn’t drive to a different city to murder African-ancestored people grocery shopping on a Saturday afternoon.
So, what do we do now? How do we change the outcome of what happened in Buffalo last weekend? The only answer I have is that we must continue our national work as Links, Inc. and use our influence to produce the change we want to see. We start at home, in our chapters, and partnerships with national organizations such as the NAACP, and as women with Sisters United 4 Reform. Working together is the only way to fight the rise of racial hatred and homegrown terrorism. Raising our voices at the ballot box, joining organizations in our communities, and extending ourselves to our neighbors. This is how we continue doing the work of our Co-Founders while Transforming Communities ~ Fulfilling our Purpose.
We are all angry and hurt — devastated by another unimaginable act of violence resulting in more Black lives lost. Roberta A. Drury. Margus D. Morrison. Andre Mackneil. Aaron Salter. Geraldine Talley. Celestine Chaney. Heyward Patterson. Katherine Massey. Pearl Young. Ruth Whitfield. Mothers. Fathers. Sisters. Brothers. Wives. Husbands. Friends. They are us. So we turn our anger and devastation into action. Because we know if we do not continue to act, there will be more racially motivated mass shootings like those in Charleston, South Carolina, El Paso, Texas, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and now Buffalo, New York. We can defeat hate with hard work and love. We will continue to do the work. We will not falter. We will not get weary. We owe it to them. Because enough really is enough.
Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, Ph.D.