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Father McShane’s Message on Racially Motivated Shooting in Buffalo

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Dear Members of the Fordham Family,

As you undoubtably know, yesterday in a neighborhood supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., an 18-year-old gunman shot 13 people, killing 10 of them. Eleven of his victims were Black. As you also probably know from the news reports that we have all received, the gunman responsible for yesterday’s carnage spent months meticulously planning his attack, and posted a racist manifesto online, the content of which makes it clear that white supremacist ideology was his motivation for the murders.

Sadly, yesterday’s heinous killings were part of an alarming and sickening pattern: Black people continue to be murdered because of the color of their skin.  This pattern reminds us (as if we needed to be reminded yet again) that racism continues to find a home in America. (Another way of saying that is to point out that our national original sin (slavery) has not been eradicated.) As a priest, I am expected to say something to calm and reassure those who are afraid and in pain. I must confess, however, that I find it impossible to look a Black person in the eye and say either “be not afraid,” or “things will be different and better in the future” if, as happened in Buffalo yesterday, a person can be shot dead while doing something as common as shopping for groceries.

Since I lived and taught in Buffalo when I was a young Jesuit, I must tell you that I wish that I could be there today to stand with the members of the city’s Black community in this moment of unspeakable sadness and loss, but I can’t. Like you, I can only mourn with and pray for the Black community of Buffalo from a distance. I know that you join me in grieving for those who died in yesterday’s attack. I also know that you, too, weep for their families.

In the wake of yesterday’s carnage, I would like to say this to our Black students, faculty, and staff: you are loved. You belong here. You are wanted here. We will do everything in our power to keep you safe, and to show you (both by word and gesture) that you are beloved members of the Fordham family.

I would also like to ask all of the members of the Fordham family to be gentle with and supportive of one another as we all process this horrific incident.

I am praying for all of you today, and indeed for our nation.

Prayers and blessings,

Joseph M. McShane, S.J.

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