How decades of racism shaped Buffalo

By on May 19, 2022 0

Henry-Louis Taylor Jr., Ph.D., director of the UB Center for Urban Studies, is the lead author of a 2021 report on inequality in Buffalo, focusing on conditions affecting black residents. (Credit: Douglas Levere)

Thu 19 May 2022 15:00

A racist mass shooting that claimed the lives of 10 people on Saturday occurred in a community that has endured decades of racism, and this painful story cannot be ignored, said center director Henry-Louis Taylor Jr. .

By University at Buffalo

In 2021, the University at Buffalo Center for Urban Studies published a report on inequality in Buffalo over the past three decades.

Conducted with support from community and academic partners, the study focused on conditions affecting black residents and explained how discriminatory policymaking fueled decades of underdevelopment in predominantly black neighborhoods.

The report, titled “The Harder We Run: The State of Black Buffalo in 1990 and the Present,” is receiving renewed attention after Saturday’s mass shooting at the Tops grocery store on Jefferson Avenue, where a gunman drove by the white supremacist ideology killed 10 people. and injured three others.

The racist attack was aimed at a black community that has already endured decades of racism, and this painful history cannot be ignored, says Henry-Louis Taylor Jr., Ph.D., lead author of the 2021 study and director of the UB Center for Urban Studies.

“For me, it’s important to remember this story because it helps us understand how we should respond to this attack,” Taylor said. “I continue to make the connection that this attack cannot be seen as an isolated event, that it is very much associated with the anti-criticism of race theory movement, and efforts across the country to suppress black voters. , and the conditions of life under which our people live. We fight to build a society based on racial, social and economic justice.

“The places we live and the conditions we live in suggest that black lives don’t matter, and it reflects a different kind of violence against our people,” he says. “It’s a subtle, insidious, silent violence that kills people.”

The 2021 study looked at metrics such as poverty rates, household income, property, employment and education, and concluded that “an entire generation has seen little or no ‘improvements in his life’.

On Sunday, The New York Times cited the report in an article asking residents about the discrimination they faced for many years, while noting severe residential racial segregation in Buffalo.

This week, in a conversation with the Los Angeles TimesTaylor explained how the decisions of city and state officials have resulted in the lack of progress: “The real policies of the city are hurting the African American community at the same time that racism and other forces continue to isolate them from the best jobs and opportunities in the metropolitan area.”

At the time of the report’s release in 2021, George F. Nicholas, pastor of Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church and leader of the African-American Task Force on Health Equity, said, “The findings are chilling. What Taylor’s report makes clear is that these issues have not been adequately addressed and no one has been held accountable.

Taylor is Professor of Urban and Regional Planning in UB’s School of Architecture and Planning and Associate Director of UB’s Community Health Equity Research Institute. Co-authors of the 2021 study include Jin-Kyu Jung, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Washington Bothell’s School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences; and Evan Dash, a master’s student in urban planning at UB.