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A Statement From Chill on the Racist Mass Shooting in Buffalo’s East Side Community

Content Warning: This topic may activate trauma and/or be sensitive to some individuals depending on identities and/or lived experiences.   

Dear Chill community,

Like all of you, I was heartbroken yesterday to learn of the racist mass shooting that devastated Buffalo’s East Side community.

This latest tragedy fits into a pattern of acts of domestic terrorism motivated by a white nationalist narrative that has become more and more frequent in the US and other countries. Charleston, Christchurch, El Paso, Atlanta, and many more. These acts also fit into a stubborn and longstanding legacy of white people acting in hostile, oppressive and dehumanizing ways toward BIPOC communities. Extreme events of racist violence stand out because they can undermine the sense of safety, security, and belonging of BIPOC and other communities in a unique way. But it’s important we recognize them as only the most extreme manifestation of an oppressive and unacceptable narrative that’s actively causing harm in smaller ways to communities throughout the country every single day. Because their impacts are so ever-present, these narratives must be challenged on a daily basis , and by every single person who understands their destructive power.

It can be tempting to look at the perpetrators of such unthinkable violence as deranged and detached – untethered to reality, society, and to the communities that we know and love. How could someone so gravely misunderstand humanity, come to hold such hateful beliefs, and act in such a destructive way? The question becomes “What’s wrong with them?” instead of “What’s wrong with us?” This is a natural human reaction, but it can get in the way of important self-examination and progress.  How are our actions, and inactions, contributing to an environment in which white nationalism is gaining ground, rather than losing it? How are the choices we make about how to spend our time each day, and how to use our voice, enabling oppression to persist around us? What changes can we make to ensure we’re doing everything within our control to disrupt oppressive thought, and dismantle oppressive systems that we’re a part of?

Chill is committed to continuing to learn from those within and beyond our community about how to be more effective in combatting white nationalist narratives, and in our anti-racist efforts more generally. I’m proud to say I know that the many thousands of individuals that make up the Chill community are also actively learning how best to contribute to this fight through their individual daily lives. We should all be grateful to be part of a community that stands for justice and can help foster much needed unity during particularly divisive times.

Thanks for all you do to support Chill youth and to build a safer, more just and equitable society.

 Ben Clark

CEO, Chill Foundation

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