This post is part of our online roundtable on “Black Buffalo”
When the national attention shifted elsewhere and the media was no longer focused on Buffalo, sustaining and advocating for structural changes on the East Side remained of interest for the creators of the #BuffaloSyllabus. Four Black scholars who were either from or currently living in Buffalo, NY came together in the immediate aftermath of the mass shooting to co-author a reading list that contextualized Black people’s lived experiences in the “city of good neighbors.” As the contributors of the “Black Buffalo” forum demonstrated, Buffalo has a long history of racism, discrimination, and violence against Black residents. The white supremacist targeted the Tops Supermarket on Jefferson, because of the neighborhood’s large percentage of Black residents. While he aimed to take something from our community, local collectives, mutual aids, and activists showed up and extended care in the form of fundraising, donating, and supplying groceries to those directly impacted. The Black Buffalo Syllabus Collective was formed to complement these grassroots efforts by gathering articles, books, op-eds, policy reports, poems, and media on different aspects of Buffalo’s social, economic, and political climate—historically and contemporarily.
We see the #BuffaloSyllabus as an opportunity to develop a long-lasting educational resource for community members, allies, and political leaders interested in taking action to better the material conditions of East Side residents. Black Buffalo is more than a target of white supremacy or silent sufferers of hypersegregation, and we view the syllabus as a viable platform to emphasize this history. The #FergusonSyllabus and #CharlestonSyllabus inspired our work, and we seek to carry on the mission and build upon digital knowledge. Unfortunately, the mass shooting was not an isolated event, and we stand in solidarity with the community of Ferguson, MO, Charleston, SC, Uvalde, TX, and Tulsa, OK. We dedicate the #BuffaloSyllabus to the community members lost: Ruth Whitfield, Aaron Salter Jr., Pearl Young, Roberta A. Drury, Celestine Chaney, Heyward Patterson, Andre Mackniel, Katherine Massey, Geraldine Chapman Talley, and Margus D. Morrison.
We hope our reading list reflects our love and care for Black Buffalo.
Readers of the #BuffaloSyllabus are welcome to engage with the material inside and outside of the traditional classroom. This can take the form of after-school programs incorporating some of the readings into its programming. It could look like local organizations hosting community book clubs to churchgoers collectively reading it before bible study. We envision our list empowering the already strong and resilient residents of Buffalo’s East Side. For white people interested in eradicating racism, we hope you learn more about the structural oppression and marginalization of Black and Brown communities from the syllabus. Then, you all can begin to hold one another accountable for complacencies in white supremacy, silence, or ignorance.
Today we launch our website, which will permanently house the #BuffaloSyllabus. Below is a sample of some of the readings as they correlate with themes relevant to Black Buffalo.
Readings on Racism, Violence, and Police Brutality in Buffalo
- Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Hiding Buffalo’s History of Racism Behind a Cloak of Unity, 9 June 2022, The New Yorker
- Meaghan M. McDermott, “The Death of India Cummings,” 28 May 2019, Democrat & Chronicle
- Raina Lipsitz, “In Erie County, Jail Deaths Continue Despite High-Profile Tragedy,” 16 January 2020, The Appeal
- Charlie Specht and Stephen T. Watson, “Timeline: Racial crimes against Black people in the Buffalo region,” 3 June 2022, The Buffalo News.
- Shawn Lay, Hooded Knights on the Niagara: The Ku Klux Klan in Buffalo, New York (1995)
Readings on the City’s Geography
*On Built Environment and City Planning/ City Government
- SUNY Buffalo Department of Urban and Regional Planning, “A Vision for the Michigan Street Heritage Corridor,” Spring 2011.
- Robert Adelman, Aysegul Balta Ozgen, Watoii Rabii, “Buffalo’s West Side Story: Migration, Gentrification, and Neighborhood Change,” City & Community 18 (June 2019).
- Robert Mark Silverman, Li Yin, Kelly L. Patterson, “Dawn of the Dead City: An Exploratory Analysis of Vacant Addresses in Buffalo, NY 2008–2010,” Journal of Urban Affairs 35 (2012).
- Davarian L. Baldwin, In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities Are Plundering Our Cities (2021)
- Christopher Maag, “What ‘Great Replacement’? In Buffalo, Black people say they’re the ones being replaced,” 31 May 2022, North County Public Radio (NCPR).
- Geoff Kelly, “Buffalo Community Activists Show How to Fight Gerrymaderring,” 12 July 2022, The Nation.
*On Housing Discrimination
- Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Michael Corkery, “Evans Bank Settles New York ‘Redlining’ Lawsuit,” 10 September 2015, The New York Times.
- Rusty Weaver, “Erasing Red Lines: Part 1 – Geographies of Discrimination,” 1 August 2019, Cornell University’s ILR Buffalo Co-Lab.
- Robert Silverman, Henry Louis Taylor, Jr., Li Yin, Camden Miller, Pascal Buggs, “Are We Still Going Through the Empty Ritual of Participation? Inner-City Residents’ and Other Grassroots Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Public Input and Neighborhood Revitalization,” Critical Sociology (2019).
- Henry Taylor, Jr., “From Theory to Practice: The Quest to Radically Reconstruct Buffalo’s Inner City Neighborhoods,” 26 July 2004, PPG Buffalo.
Readings on Black Buffalo’s History
- Lillian Serece Williams, Strangers in the Land of Paradise: Creation of an African American Community, Buffalo, New York, 1900-1940 (1999)
- Henry Louis Taylor, Jr., “Social Transformation Theory, African Americans and the Rise of Buffalo’s Post-Industrial City,” Buffalo Law Review 39 (April 1991).
- The Cynthia M. Van Ness, “‘Still They Come’: Some Eyewitness Accounts of the Underground Railroad in Buffalo,” Afro-Americans in New York Life and History 36 (2012).
- Anita Nahal and Lopez D. Matthews, Jr., “African American Women and the Niagara Movement, 1905-1909,” Afro-Americans in New York Life and History 32 (2008).
- Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Madeline Davis, Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community (1993).
- Victoria W. Wolcott, “Recreation and Race in the Postwar City: Buffalo’s 1956 Crystal Beach Riot,” The Journal of African American History 93 (June 2006).
- Rowena Ianthe Alfonso, “‘Crucial to the Survival of Black People’: Local People, Black Power, and Community Organizations in Buffalo, New York, 1966–1968,” Journal of Urban History (May 2015).
Readings on “Towards an Abolitionist Future”
- Will Doig, “How Do We Get More Power? A Grassroots Movement in Buffalo’s Fruit Belt,” 4 May 2020, Open Society Foundations.
- Jessica L. Gilbert and Rebekah A. Williams, “Pathways to reparations: land and healing through food justice,” Human Geography 13 (September 2020).
- The Black Leadership Forum, “The Health Status of the Near East Side Black Community: A Study of the Wellness and Neighborhood Conditions Buffalo, New York,” September 2000, UB Center for Urban Studies, School of Architecture and Planning, and the UB Center for Research in Primary Care.
- Tiffanie Woods, “Ready for Change,” 27 June 2022, Buffalo Magazine.
- Mark Sommer, “Nurturing East Side projects preceded state’s gush of cash: ‘A once-in-a-generation opportunity,’” 7 June 2022, The Buffalo News.
- Free the People WNY, “13 Recommendations for Police Reforms to Buffalo”
- Samina Raja et al., “Rustbelt Radicalism: A Decade of Food Systems Planning in Buffalo, New York,” Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development 4 (4): 173–189.