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Processing trauma from Buffalo shooting means looking inwards and reaching out

The particular evil of the recent shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., has shaken me. It has saddened me. It has scared me. It was targeted and planned to terrorize Black people. And it is an expression of racism in its most undiluted form.

And this mass shooting hits different for me because it hits way too close to home. I had lulled myself into a false sense of security believing these types of events only happened in the South. Nope, this happened right next door in New York.

I would like to share my thoughts about these recent events as a journalist and as a woman of color who identifies as Black and as mixed race.

I was disappointed by the online comments in response to the initial story about the Buffalo shooting on The Day's website. They predominantly focused on political arguments and placing blame. Some of the comments were offensive. There were few comments about the people of Buffalo and what they were going through during this horrific time.

Earlier last week week, I was hoping for a story about how the Black community in the area was dealing with this tragedy. I can hear some of my colleagues now in my head, "What do you want Robin? Another candlelight vigil?"

No, I don't. But I will tell you what I do want.

1. I want all of this to be called what it is. This shooting is the direct result of racism. Racism in the United States is the oppression and abuse of power by one group of people over another group of people based on the color of a person's skin. The tools of racism include but are not limited to discrimination, bigotry, prejudice, bias, microaggressions, stereotyping, racial profiling and violence. Racism is woven into every aspect of American life. It directly affects a person’s access to food, education, employment, housing, health care, legal representation, financial independence, clean water, transportation, etc.

2. To the online commenters, let's remember that human beings have died as the innocent victims of a violent crime. Show some respect. Stop using another human being's death as an excuse for you to engage in your puny political arguments to boost your ego.

3. I would like to see The Day lead the way in the news industry in no longer naming the perpetrators of these crimes in stories. Mass shootings need to be treated the same as suicides by the media. Glorifying these events in the media has to stop now. We will not give these devils their 15 minutes of fame.

4. Racial sensitivity and diversity cannot be taught without lived experience and it cannot be taught without mentioning racism. All the online quizzes and seminars will not make a bit of difference without the communal understanding of our history as a country, how that shared history has made us into who we are today and how we need to heal as a whole to move forward.

5. The Day may need to be more observant of the online comments on its stories so the website and the newspaper do not become magnets for hate speech and its ilk. There are fewer news organizations in Connecticut and nationally that offer its audience the privilege to comment anymore because people abuse this type of forum. Writing letters to the editor has been working just fine for a long time.

6. My dream for this newspaper is for it to become a safe place for the Black community and other people of color. A place where their authentic voices and true experiences are expressed and heard, not only their triumphs but their traumas. Where their lives and deaths matter. Where Black lives are not measured for their entertainment value, but valued because they merely are. We are more than rappers, athletes and cooks. We are more than any stereotype you can come up with.

7. I don't know how to stop gun violence in the United States nor how to eradicate racism. But what I can do as an individual is reach out to the people around me to see how everyone is doing and see if they need anything. And I am worried about how the Black community in The Day's readership is dealing with this shooting. I think about the men and women who may now be terrified to go grocery shopping or to step into any store because of this mass shooting.

I also think about the Black community in Buffalo. The community in that part of the city has lost its grocery store. Some people have lost their jobs. How can I help? How can you help?

Start with this: www.topsmarkets.com/BuffaloSurvivorsFund. There are various ways to help Buffalo right now, but please be on the lookout for scammers. I trust this link through the grocery store's website.

Then, go to The Day's website, click on the latest story about the Buffalo shooting and send messages of support to that community. Show the online commenters what compassion looks like in times of tragedy.

Lastly, check on the people around you. See if anyone needs help with getting groceries or running errands. Just a thought.

Robin Watson is a copy editor at The Day.

r.watson@theday.com

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