We rarely comment on current events, but the Buffalo murders at the hands of an 18-year-old white supremacist hit us hard. To our friends and colleagues in Buffalo, we share your grief and anger and offer our support.
The young shooter subscribed to the racist theory that white people, like him, are being replaced by those he considers “other.” Those who promote “replacement theory” want white people to be terrified by the demographic changes that are turning the US from majority white to a multi-hued people. Replacement theorists promote the idea that these changes constitute an existential threat, a loss of identity and white power. They feed their audience on entitlement, hate, and rage, as if a white person’s troubles somehow come from the BIPOC, Jewish, Muslim, immigrant, and LGBTQ+ communities, and not from policies and environments that deprive too many of us–many white people included–of what we need to thrive. The Buffalo shooter is not the first to act on this theory by picking up a gun.
ACT for Youth is a small but diverse group of 11 people. We are multi-racial and multi-ethnic, representing identities across the gender and sexual orientation spectrum, from diverse economic and religious backgrounds, and from families that span a wide range of liberal and conservative views. Our diversity is a strength we are still learning to wield. We are still awkward around the conversations that we need to have, not always knowing what to say, what to expect, or how to be with each other in the context of inequities and injustices, particularly as they relate to our varying identities. But we do know that our different life experiences and perspectives give us range and understandings to help us meet the world as it is. Our diversity is not just something to celebrate, it is at the heart of who we are as an organization that aims to make change. The more we learn to cultivate this strength, the more effective we will be.
In this world, we need everyone’s strengths and gifts. We are grateful to all of you for the work you do to support young people’s growth, thriving, and connectedness. We grieve for the lives stolen in Buffalo. Each of them, and each of us, is irreplaceable.
– The ACT for Youth Team