Reflection on a Shooting in Buffalo: Taking Action

Reflection on a Shooting in Buffalo: Taking Action

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Angry? Yes.  
Heartbroken? Yes. 
Shocked at violence like this? Yes. 
Not shocked that this violence continues? Yes. 
Wanting to turn away, to ignore the pain? Yes. 
Unable to turn away, called to join the Buffalo community in their anger and their grief? Yes. 

This is a list of emotions I quickly cycled through upon reading the breaking news headline that there had been another mass shooting carried out for the sake of white supremacy. These are the emotions I continue to move through as I hear news coverage and go about my own daily life. As a white person, it is easy for me to stay with the feelings of surprise – how could this happen? – and numbnessthis doesn’t affect me. As a white person, it is easy for my feelings of grief, anger, and dis-ease to be fleeting, and to quickly return to my life as it was before.  
 
But this is not about me or my feelings. This is about Roberta A. Drury, Margus D. Morrison, Andre Mackniel, Aaron Salter, Geraldine Talley, Celestine Chaney, Heyward Patterson, Katherine Massey, Pearl Young, Ruth Whitfield, as well as Zaire Goodman, Jennifer Warrington, Christopher Braden and the others who survived. This is about their loved ones and a community terrorized by the violence of racism. This is about the fear and alarm that mass, public, racialized violence is intended to cause in African Americans and other communities of color in this country, as contemporary violence like this evokes public whippings and hangings of the past. Say their names. Pray their names. 
 
As a white person, it is easy for my feelings of grief, anger, and dis-ease to be fleeting – but as a Christian, my faith calls me to grieve with those who are grieving and rage with those who are raging. As people of faith, we are called to lend our prayers to the living and the dead in the aftermath of tragedy and violence. As people of faith, especially we who are white Christians, we are called to name and condemn white supremacy and violence in all its forms. White supremacy is anathema to God, but integral to the foundation of this country. Gun violence is anathema to God, but commonplace in the United States.  
 
Raging with those who rage and condemning white supremacy in all its forms calls us to dwell in community and put our actions where our hearts are – and let these two feed each other. We act because the people we are in community with call us to act. We find community because that’s where the people taking action are.  
 
For those of you who are already engaged with communities centered around anti-racism or in deep relationship with communities of color, lean into those relationships and take the actions that are most needed and meaningful in your community.  
 
For those looking for new opportunities for action, education, and community, consider these: 
  • End Hate Across the State - June 5, 12:30 PM, Arbor Park in Ellington, CT.  Come listen to what groups are saying about hate here in Connecticut. We want to ensure the issue of hate is addressed because we do not want a similar incident which occurred in Buffalo, New York to occur in this state. Contact Rocky Hill Congregational Church member Brian Donahue for more information: bcdgim@gmail.com 
  • Poor People’s Campaign Moral March (June 18, Washington DC) and SNEUCC Pre-Trip Gathering (June 6, 6pm, online). The Poor People’s Campaign struggles against five interlocking injustices: systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the false moral narrative of religious nationalism, and the war economy. Join the SNEUCC Pre-Trip Gathering to meet other UCC folks from our region who plan to travel to DC. Learn more about the Moral MarchAttendees of SNEUCC Annual Meeting will also have an opportunity to participate in the online component of the march. Learn more.
  • Paying Royalties for Negro Spirituals – Thursday, June 23, 4 p.m. via Zoom. Join Rev. James D. Ross II, SNEC Minister for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as he facilitates a conversation with Susan DeSelms, Minister of Music at United Parish of Brookline, and Gerami Groover, Executive Director at Hamilton-Garrett Music and Arts, about their partnership in which United Parish pays “royalties” when the congregation sings spirituals. In general, Negro spirituals emerge from a time when former Africans were enslaved in America; neither the composers nor their descendants have received compensation. Hamilton-Garrett receives these funds from United Parish and uses them for their work to celebrate and preserve black music, including Negro spirituals. Learn more about this effort and how you can replicate it.  
  • SNEUCC Racial Justice Summit – September 24, Glastonbury, CT. Connect with people throughout the Conference around specific manifestations of racial injustice and potential strategies for congregations and communities to usher in justice. Learn more and register.
  • Jubilee Justice Leadership Program – beginning Fall 2022. The Conference is partnering with Justice Leadership Program to offer an SNEUCC cohort of Jubilee, an online 6-month program for adults who wish to learn more about faith-based justice work. The program consists of four components: education; volunteering with local justice organization; connection with local congregation; and spiritual sojourning for reflection and integration. Learn more and apply.
I hope you choose to join in one or more of these opportunities for action, education, and community. And until we next join together for community and action, will you pray with me? 
 
How long, O God? How long must your people suffer the evils of racism and violence? 
Instill in us a certainty that all people are created in your image and beloved in your sight. Instill in us a certainty that Black people are created in your image and beloved in your sight. May they be beloved to us, too. 
 
God, may your gentle presence continue to be known among the families of Roberta A. Drury, Margus D. Morrison, Andre Mackniel, Aaron Salter, Geraldine Talley, Celestine Chaney, Heyward Patterson, Katherine Massey, Pearl Young, Ruth Whitfield, as well as Zaire Goodman, Jennifer Warrington, Christopher Braden and the others who survived. 
 
God, may your provoking presence continue to disturb the conscience of this nation. Do not let us get away with un-broken hearts. Do not let us get away with un-outraged spirits. Do not let us get away with not disrupting the way things are, for the way things are means too many are dead.  
 
Sustain us in the work for the long haul, God. Grant us visions of the world that could be, an earth as it is in heaven. In your liberating name we pray, amen. 

Author

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Emma Brewer-Wallin

Emma serves as the Minister for Environmental and Economic Justice at the Southern New England Conference. She supports congregations in making God’s love real through engagement in environmental and economic justice. Contact her for: Support ...

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