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Buffalo, New York

I am a Black man. My race arrives before me in each and every room, prior to the first words that I say out of my mouth.

I am a Black man that prides himself on being polite, courteous, articulate, and extroverted in order to make a strong and lasting first impression. Even as we approach the midpoint of 2022, I believe that there is a chance that I may encounter someone non-diverse, that has never encountered a Black person in a manner outside of their stereotypical mindset.

Jokingly, I’ve been known to tell my fellow Black colleagues, that we should not congregate together at the workplace because someone could drastically affect our numbers if they decided to take us out.

Unfortunately, on May 14th, 2022, a hate-filled, racist, and calculated White, eighteen-year-old male turned my joke into a reality.

I will not use the assailant’s name, I will only say White male. This White male used New York Zipcode information and arrived to the conclusion that the 14208 Zipcode was comprised of 78% Black people based upon the 2020 US Census Information. This Zipcode represented the highest percentage of a Black population in any Zipcode in upstate New York. The White male, drove three-and-a-half hours of a drive from Conklin, New York to Buffalo, New York to execute his plan.

I am a Black man that is desensitized to the loss of Black bodies by gun violence. It has taken me three days to finally turn on the news to learn about the events in Buffalo. The details of the plan and mindset of this White male are demoralizing. This was not just an act of rage or anger; it was so much more.

Authorities have now reviewed 672 pages of messages posted online by a user who has since been identified as the White male assailant. The Washington Post found that he had made plans as early as December to murder those he regarded as “replacers” – a reference to the racist conspiracy theory that open immigration policies and high birth rates for Black people are being promoted to displace white voters.

There are more things to unpack in the White male’s ideology than I am prepared to address. What I can say is that I will continue to be the Black man that I am. I will continue to make eye contact with all those strangers I cross paths with, I will continue to say, “good morning, how are you doing today?”

Why? Because it only takes a second to make a lasting first impression; my life could depend on it.

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