Shanon R. Hardie, Board Chair
The tragedy in Buffalo still weighs heavy on my mind and heart alongside the shootings in Tulsa, Laguna
Hills, Uvalde and 14 other sites over the Memorial Day weekend. I know it is not new; acts of violence
and racism are inflicted upon our Black friends, neighbors, co-workers, families, and communities every
day and traumatize them further. What is hitting me so hard is that despite so much more focused
attention on racial injustice, there continues to be such regularity of it; the cumulative effect, the
seeming acceptance of it as ‘normal,’ and that in the Buffalo case, it was an 18-year-old that carried out
this evil act. How does an 18-year-old develop such hatred and bias? We accept that we have so much
work to do with older generations raised in an environment with biased and racist cultural norms. But
how, in this day and age, are we still raising children with that hatred? I guess I have been naïve in
thinking that we are raising a new generation that is more aware, more tolerant, more empathetic,
more inclusive. My hope for the future was in the next generation. Expecting they would help us lead
REAL change. I know this is just one young person but if there is one, there are others.
Life is hard and there are so many risks out in the world that can harm and devastate any family. Every
parent worries about their kids. However, I can’t imagine the kind of fear, stress, and anxiety that Black
mothers and fathers have to live with and manage each and every single day. Beyond worrying about
the things all parents worry about – stranger danger, car accidents, being hit by a car, drowning, etc. –
they have to worry that any person their child interacts with will harm them solely because of the color
of their skin. A worry that those of us with white privilege never have to think about. Never having to
ask ourselves…Will they see and appreciate how important my child’s life is? Will they see my child as a
person of value and worthy of kindness and respect? Will they see that my child is as loved and precious
to our family as their own children are to them? Will they see that my child has hopes and dreams just
like their children do? Will they understand and have empathy for my child’s wariness and fear because
of a pattern of inequities, bias, violence, and trauma that they’ve seen happen time and again?
I struggle between heartbreaking sadness and full-on outrage. As a white woman of privilege, I am still
on a learning journey and am committed to increased awareness, adding my voice and taking action. I
am still not always comfortable in sharing my message and voice. I know what I feel in my heart and
what message I want to say but can’t always find the right words to say it. I know many of us of privilege
are in the same boat. However, if we stay silent for fear of saying it “wrong,” then nothing will change.
So, I am working at taking the risk of saying it anyway and knowing that I will get better at it through
humility, owning my missteps and doing better next time. I also know that I will be extended grace for
having my heart and intentions in the right place. I encourage you to join me in taking the risks…. for
that is the only way toward REAL change.