This post is part of our online roundtable on “Black Buffalo”

Buffalo, New York, USA- June 11, 2022: Memorial of flowers, dove cut-outs and pictures of the African American victims of the mass shooting in Buffalo NY at a Tops supermarket (Val Dunne Photography/ Shutterstock)

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

Readings on the City’s Geography

*On Built Environment and City Planning/ City Government

*On Housing Discrimination

Readings on Black Buffalo’s History

Readings on “Towards an Abolitionist Future”

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The Black Buffalo Syllabus Collective

J Coley, Tiana U. Wilson, William Jamal Richardson, and Dr. Robert Mays formed the Black Buffalo Syllabus Collective in the immediate aftermath of the mass shooting to create a reading list that would contextualize the lived experiences of Black people in Buffalo, New York.

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