Opinion: The Buffalo shooting stands at the forefront of America’s battle with hate crimes


Credit: Alyssa Ao

WSPN’s Katya Luzarraga discusses the Buffalo shooting and how racial hate-crimes contributed to the tragic event.

Katya Luzarraga

Racism and hate crimes plague our great nation and we’re not doing anything to stop it. We go out into the world knowing that there are stereotypes, but in the last couple of years, violence against minority groups has reached an all-time high. I give credit to white supremacists who cannot control their egos and, as a result, 10 Black people are now dead.

On Saturday May 14, 2022 a white gunman drove over 200 miles to a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. and killed 10 people, almost all of them Black people. It was later determined by officials that this attack was premeditated, as well as documented beforehand on a private chat room on Discord. The shooter, Payton S. Gendron carried out white supremacist ideals when he entered Tops Supermarket on that tragic Saturday afternoon.

Gendron believed that he was restoring America’s purity by getting rid of people who had come to “ethnically replace his people.” This absurd belief is shared amongst many white supremacists and right-wing politicians and it is called the replacement theory. Sparking from the fear that white people will become a minority one day, this theory has made its way into mainstream media from the dark depths of conspiracies.

The influence that these racially motivated ideas have on people is terrifying. Nationalistic people will always take pride in their country, and for them, this is being threatened as more people are allowed access to immigrate to the United States. Instead of their “great nation” being populated by the race they believe built it to what it is today, they are forced to watch as more “illegal aliens” enter America. In the eyes of white-supremacists and Republican politicians, these people are muddying the pristine reputation of America.

The Buffalo shooting is one example of a racially motivated mass shooting, among many, a truly saddening event in a country where people of all backgrounds and ethnicities come to create a brighter future for themselves and their families. However, these same people are targeted because of their differences. In multiple instances throughout the years, white supremacists have massacred minority groups for practicing their religions or carrying out their daily activities.

They were American citizens who deserved the same rights and protections as everyone else. Only because of the color of their skin were they targeted, and now their families must live with the reality that a loved one is not coming home.

In the U.S., 61.8% of hate crime victims are targeted on the basis of their ethnicity or culture, according to the F.B.I. Everything about this is wrong but unfortunately, it is how our country has been shaped. We don’t see others by their inner traits, like how strong or unique they are. We base them off of where they come from or the color of their skin. Our country only views people in black and white and this determines the respect they get.

Throughout the pandemic, there has been an increase in police brutality against Black people and in the number of hate crimes carried out against them. Over and over, media outlets have shown Black people being gunned down and brutalized by white supremacists and even the police. The far right believes in a system that allows police to have the manpower to intimidate minority groups. This has led to a social justice movement to defund the police after people witnessed the brutality that African Americans have to endure from police officers.

It’s painful to write these words and I shouldn’t have to, but America is once again witnessing a shooting. I can’t even count how many shootings have occurred in my lifetime, but it’s so many more than I have fingers for. It’s almost normalized to turn on your TV and see that a school shooting, store shooting or racially-motivated shooting has happened.

Amidst the horrific shootings that have occurred within the past two weeks, including the Texas school shooting, we need to acknowledge the severity of them in the long run. People being murdered should not be at the forefront of society for a day and then disregarded. We need to recognize the sickening mindsets that white-supremacists and Republican politicians have when they are preaching their dangerous ideas to the masses, and the fact that hate crimes are a result of these ideas.