White therapists for Buffalo shooting? You missed the point
When a hate crime against black people happens, white therapists are not the best answer
A room full of white therapists set up to talk to black people after a hate crime: There is no better way to describe obliviousness than that. I’m fairly convinced that this group was organized with the best of intentions, but these are those moments when Mainstream America really doesn’t understand just how stressful racism is on marginalized groups.
Let’s back up to how this started.
In May of this year, on the East Side of Buffalo New York, a white supremacist entered Tops grocery store, killed 10 people and injured three more. Almost all of the ones harmed or killed were Black in a neighborhood that was already 85% Black. Before 19-year-old gunman Payton Gendron pled guilty to murder and terrorism this week, the people in this town had to come to grips with what just happened.
Now imagine this just happened, and one day later, teams of white emergency volunteers and mental health counselors are flocking around the scene “to help.”
“The community didn’t feel comfortable coming up the stairs to the center because what they saw was a large group of White people,” Kelly Wofford, Erie County’s director of health equity, told reporter Katie Lobosco in a CNN report.
And I don’t blame them one bit. To put it into perspective, imagine you’re a woman who witnessed a rape (or were the victim of the rape) by a man. A day later, someone asks you to come into a room full of men to talk about the rape. While you may be fully aware that all of these men are upstanding citizens that may have your best interest at heart, at that moment, you are terrified.
You would rather talk to someone who looks, walks and sounds like you. Someone you know for sure is not from that group. Someone who you can speak openly and honestly about without carefully choosing your words. Diplomacy goes out the window when fear and anger kick in.