Buffalo and the Double Terror of Being Black in America

tags: racism, African American history, Buffalo Massacre

Ibram X. Kendi is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and the director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. He is the author of several books, including the National Book Award–winning Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America and How to Be an Antiracist.

Iloved strawberry shortcake as a child in New York City. The sliced strawberries, the juice, the softest of cake, that whipped cream. I loved it all individually. And together? Pure bliss.

Celestine Chaney loved strawberry shortcake too. A 65-year-old mother and grandmother of six, Chaney took strawberry-shortcake making to another level. She’d buy “those little cake cups,” her son, Wayne Jones, told The Buffalo News. “You cut the strawberries up, sprinkle sugar over them, and leave in the refrigerator overnight. The juice from the strawberries is poured in the cup, and you put whipped cream on top."

Chaney went to Tops grocery store on Saturday afternoon to purchase the ingredients for her strawberry shortcake. I’m picturing how Chaney must have intended to take her little cakes out of the refrigerator on Sunday after attending Elim Christian Fellowship. I’m picturing this grandmother closing her eyes and swaying her head as she bites into her cake. Moments feel like minutes as she swallows. Bliss suspends time—especially strawberry-shortcake bliss.

On Saturday, though, Chaney was one of 10 people whom an 18-year-old white supremacist allegedly murdered with an assault rifle. She survived the lethality of racist policy; survived breast cancer like my mother and partner, at a time when Black women are the most likely to die of that disease. But Chaney wasn’t able to survive racist violence. For Black people to survive both racist policy and racist violence is grueling. To live as a Black American is to be a survivor.

Chaney’s killer denied all this. Racist theories deny the racist structure of American policies, the ubiquity of racist violence, and the obvious and ongoing structural violence revealed by racial disparities. The heartbeat of being racist is denial. The deeper the denial, the more diabolical the racist theory.

The most diabolical of all racist ideas operating today—the theory reaching the very depths of denialism, the theory that replaces reality perhaps more than any other—is the “Great Replacement” theory, or GRT, a white-supremacist conspiracy theory cited in a screed linked to the Buffalo shooter. But versions of GRT have also been spread by Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump, and many other powerful political and media figures in the United States today. GRT denies the greatest white privilege: life itself. It denies the greatest Black deprivation: life itself.


Imagine how much a white supremacist has to replace reality in order to believe that white people—who remain on the higher end of nearly every racial disparity—are being killed off, that they are being replaced, that they are being harmed, and that to protect themselves, they need to attack the very Black people who are actually on the lower end of nearly every racial disparity. The Great Replacement theory wholly replaces reality, presenting the dying as the living, and the living as the dying.


Read entire article at The Atlantic

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