know about Opinion | Legacy of Racial Segregation Contributes to Mass Shootings Today
On May 14 in Buffalo, New York, an 18-year-old named Payton Gendron, armed with a semi-automatic weapon and a violent and racist ideology called “Great replacement” theory, opened fire at a Tops supermarket in Masten. Gendron methodically killed 10 people and wounded three. Eleven of the thirteen people shot were black.
In conversations surrounding the shooting, sources they have discussed the two-front war of white supremacy and racial segregation, but these issues are not separate. They are the same, and the city of Pittsburgh harbors the same roots of systemic racism that underpin shootings like the one in Buffalo.
As details of the Buffalo shooting were revealed, it became clear that the attack was a hate crime. Before the massacre, Gendron had published a racist manifesto online. The N word was written on the gun used in his attack. He had researched the local demographics to make sure I could kill as many blacks as possible and drove for more than three hours to take advantage of the concentration of black people in the neighborhood. The shooting was a strategic move, deliberately targeting a grocery store that was in the center of Buffalo’s black community. But how did black residents become so concentrated in the region?
The city of Buffalo has a long history of racial inequality and segregation within their schools, housing estates and health systems. the community is a victim of abysmal school funding, lack of affordable housing, and poor health outcomes due to these forms of racism.
If you’re familiar with Pittsburgh history, these details may sound alarmingly familiar. Pittsburgh’s history of racial inequality mirrors Buffalo’s.
Before Gendron’s attack, the Masten community was already experiencing compound layers of racism. The city of Buffalo is one of the most segregated cities in the United States. As the black population began to increase after World War I, racism restrictive covenants prohibited black residents from buying houses.
Once these deals were outlawed in 1948, the banks denied blacks FHA home loans through red lines. building a road divided Buffalo in half in the 1950s, sequestering black residents on the east side. This highway allowed whites to continue to travel to the economic centers of the area. As the the white population decreased, the black population in the city grew and the residents of the east side slipped more and more towards economic deterioration.
For this day, non-white neighborhoods on Buffalo’s east side receive severe financial disadvantages. Children of color are overwhelmingly concentrated in the region school District with the greatest poverty, offering them fewer educational opportunities. Y displacement continues to be a growing concern.
Like Buffalo, Pittsburgh has experienced persistent racial segregation within its neighborhoods. the same aggressive Red line The politics that divided Buffalo took place in Pittsburgh, concentrating black residents in communities like Homewood, Northview Heights, and Lincoln Lemington. this de facto racial zoning it has been reinforced by housing policies over the decades. In the same way the highway hindered the economic mobility of the Buffalo community, the construction of Interstate 579 isolated black residents of the Hill District from downtown Pittsburgh.
Because changing housing markets, current black residents are being pushed into certain areas like Penn Hills, McKeesport and Braddock. Like Buffalo, Pittsburgh’s black residents fall “far below similar cities” in health, income, employment, and educational outcomes. the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Project it states, “Even though blacks make up only 22% of Pittsburgh’s population, an overwhelming 76% of majority-black neighborhoods are high or extreme poor.”
These issues converge and leave Black Pittsburgh residents at a disadvantage. Dr Noble Maseru, a Pitt professor of public health and senior advisor for social justice and anti-racism initiatives for the Pitt Schools of Health Sciences, conducted research in 63 communities within Allegheny County and found that of the 63 neighborhoods, only 9 meet the average U.S. life expectancy. Maseru said this disparity is a direct result of the city of Pittsburgh excluding residents of the necessary resources.
“I would say that what people have unequivocally determined and identified as the cause is structural racism, systemic racism. So that exclusion of providing appropriate resources from what we know as education and living wage, we know that that is intentional,” Maseru said.
These issues are not removed from the Buffalo shooting. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor of the New Yorker stated that racial inequality within the The Buffalo region indicates that black lives are treated as disposable. By failing to address inequality within its own communities, the city of Buffalo reaffirmed the idea that black neighborhoods have less value, according to Taylor.
The same can be said for Pittsburgh. For years, black residents have denounced the inequality that reigns in the city. Residents spoke out in a public audience in May 2021 on disparities in black communities. A resident named Carl Redwood said“Politicians have promised the city would be economically and racially diverse, but mayor after mayor, city council after city council, has accelerated existing class and racial inequities.”
Maseru said the racism that has caused the white supremacist shootings cannot be separated from the systemic policies that intentionally exclude Black residents from needed resources — they are the same thing.
“White nationalism is not disconnected from systemic racism. Because we are talking about systemic racism and structural racism,” Maseru said. “That means that the United States has that particular creed that we have identified as flawed or inappropriate based on the principles and ideals of the Constitution, which is structural racism.”
According to Maseru, to address the root of these racially motivated mass shootings, we must address the structural racism that continues to keep black communities at a disadvantage.
“That means we have to discover and classify those elements of structural racism. So you can call it white nationalism, or whatever you want to identify or label it. I think the most important thing is to determine if we have the structural and systemic racism that is expressed as white nationalism, at some point we have to eliminate those elements within these respective institutions,” Maseru said.
As the nation continues to mourn this week’s wave of mass shootings, it’s hard not to think about the shared histories of Buffalo and Pittsburgh and the ways Black residents have long been ignored. Payton Gendron investigated Masten for months. He used the community’s history of racial inequality and discrimination to single out the supermarket as “attack area 1”. He had carefully measured Buffalo’s communities to find the highest concentration of blacks.
As racial attacks continue to be common in America, I fear for the Pittsburgh community. We are still grieving for the Throw the tree of lifean attack fueled by the same racist conspiracy that Payton Gendron believed in. The Tree of Life shooting showed that the dangers of white nationalism are here in Pittsburgh, but the continued refusal to address racial segregation shows that Pittsburgh has nurtured the roots of white nationalism. nationalism for much longer.
If the city of Pittsburgh does nothing to address the injustice its Black residents continue to face, then it does nothing to prevent what happened in Buffalo from happening here.
Ebonee Rice-Nguyen writes primarily on political, social, and cultural issues. write to her [email protected].