was invited to join folks from Black Lives Matter to meet some of the
affected in Buffalo, New York, people who have been traumatized by
the awful May 14 massacre of ten Black people and the wounding of
more. I joined Black Lives Matter leaders from all over the country,
from Michigan, New York, Los Angeles, Texas, and Florida. My BLM
colleagues asked me to put the racist attack on Black folks just
buying groceries in the context of white insanity and predatory
was humbled to join these warriors, to be called to witness the pain
that so many are feeling, and humbled to hug a sister, her name is
Frangrance, who was in the Tops Grocery store and running out when
she heard the shots. She ran out and then tried to run back in
because she'd left her daughter behind.
Julian Cook, the pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church, opened up his
facility to allow people to share how violence had affected them, and
Black Lives Matter Grass Roots was there to support them. In addition
to those connected to the Buffalo Massacre, I was blessed to have
time to connect with Rev. Geneva Reed-Veal, Sandra Bland’s mom,
who sports a T-Shirt that says “Sandy Speaks.” Devante
Clark, whose brother Stephon Clark was shot dead in his grandmother's
backyard, was also there. So were Andrew and Deanna Joseph, whose
son, Andrew Joseph, was executed by a police officer in Tampa,
Florida, and Bianca Austin, a cousin of Breanna Taylor’s,
killed by a rogue police officer in Louisville, Kentucky.
pain in Macedonia was palpable. It was so real that you could hold it
in your hands. When you went to hug people, they held on, seeking
comfort. It was also that they had experiences to share. More, those
from Buffalo understand that the killings at Tops were not just
killings at the Tops Market. They were manifestations of vile racism
and predatory capitalism that pervades Buffalo.
Tops Market in the eastern part of Buffalo is the only grocery store
there. Tops is one of the largest privately-owned companies in
Buffalo, and they own more than 150 stores (according to Wikipedia)
in upstate New York. They have started a fund to support victims of
the massacre, but they have not owned their responsibility for the
is there only one grocery store in the eastern part of Buffalo?
Anybody who operates a monopoly can extract surplus value from its
shoppers. The dozen or so people I talked to said that customer
service at Tops was never great. Why would it be when the store has a
monopoly? Without stopping at the East Buffalo Tops and another one
in Buffalo, I can guarantee that prices in the ‘hood are higher
than they are in other parts of town. Tops management would likely
say that costs are higher and profit margins lower. I’m not
sure that is the only reason.
capitalists see communities like east Buffalo as profit centers. They
isolate Black shoppers and consolidate their market to maximize their
profits. Why is there only one grocery store in an area that serves
as many as 100,000 people, many poor, car-less, or without options?
Why, in our predatory capitalist space, are there no competitors to
provide alternative grocery services? Black lives matter, and Black
money matters, too. So, all these corporate folks who are throwing
dollars to assuage the pain of the massacres might make a difference
by building more grocery stores in East Buffalo.
felt the pain in Buffalo, the sidewalks spilling over with flowers,
stuffed animals, signs, and more. The sidewalks are spilling over
with pain, the so many ways that the Buffalo pain is the collective
pain of African American people. Much of the pain is the absolute
pain of the massacre, and there is also pain from the economic
oppression that the people in east Buffalo are experiencing. A
highway bisected a Black community so white folks could gain. Been
there, done that, in too many cities. Segregating us makes it
possible for racist filth to isolate us.
yet, through the pain, we rise. Are there investors who would empower
Black Buffalo? Relieve these survivors of their pain? No more
thoughts and prayers. Action. Action. Action.