The safe places for Black folks are dwindling. In America, we’ve been shot down in cold blood in our places of worship, our homes, our schools, our workplaces, our front yards, our streets - virtually no place is off limits. None of us are off limits either - not even our children. It’s time for Black people to publicly talk about the right to self-defense, not gun control.

We’ve barely had time to process the cold-blooded, calculated shootings in Buffalo. In less than a month there have been nearly fifty more mass shootings in the U.S. The reality of thirteen Black people being gunned down by a white racist is buried in the news feed much like the ten victims who’ve been laid to rest. We barely had time to reflect on the deadly intentionality of the Buffalo massacre.

Payton Gendron was on a racist rampage to kill Black people. He had done his homework, researching his target for months. Thanks to structural racism and subsequent segregation, Gendron’s mission was made easier by selecting the Buffalo area with a high concentration of Black residents. Zip code 14208.

The shooter chose Tops Friendly Market because of its political and social significance to the African American community. The grocery store was the effort of a decades-long fight by that community in the midst of a food desert. Finally opening in 2003, the market was centered in community. Tops Friendly Market was a cherished landmark for the Black community in Buffalo.

There still needs to be a serious discussion about gun control in America and the role of guns in our society. We own more guns per capita than any other country. Is there a way to keep racist white men from legally buying guns and using them on us at will? I think there is.

We should expose white domestic terrorists hiding behind the First and Second Amendments to justify their acts. Their rhetoric is designed to chill any discussion about why they should be able to spew their racist vitriol 24/7.

Guns and lack of gun control is not the main problem here. All kinds of weapons have been used to terrorize and murder Black people since being kidnapped and brought to these shores. From fire to baseball bats to vehicles - it’s about the intent and not so much about the weapon of choice.

It’s equally important for Black and Brown communities to think about our safety and security and who we can count on to protect us. A thoughtful discussion and subsequent strategy about how we will defend our communities in the future is worth having. We have more than enough evidence on how the current scenario will play out.

Almost a decade ago, Dr. Akinyele Umoja published **We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement. I penned a review for BlackCommentator.com titled, “Somebody ‘Fixin’ to be Killed.” The title came from a quote by Claude Brown, a member of the Deacons for Defense, as he confronted white city officials in his hometown. The message of the Deacons was that Black folks weren’t going to be the only ones in fear of their lives.

Mississippi is America, and the present looks like the past. The right-wing in this country is getting more organized and more strategic in its violence against non-whites. Anti-Black anger is fueling their fears and their hate. Right now, there’s not a whole lot standing between us and them except their high-powered rifles.

Our brother Malcolm X actually talked about peace more than he was given credit for by the mainstream. However, he was very clear on the violence perpetrated on his people. Malcolm X put the Black dilemma in perspective when he proclaimed that the right to defend ourselves cannot be called violence, it’s called “intelligence.”

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member and Columnist, Jamala Rogers, founder and Chair Emeritus of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis. She is an organizer, trainer and speaker. She is the author of The Best of the Way I See It – A Chronicle of Struggle. Other writings by Ms. Rogers can be found on her blog jamalarogers.com. Contact Ms. Rogers and BC.

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