Racial Equity

Buffalo: healing amidst longstanding trauma

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In Brief

The first installment of NBC’s digital series #ChangingTheNarrative features the city of Buffalo, New York – a community with a long history or partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation work. The series explores how people in East Buffalo are addressing their history of racial trauma, while identifying what it takes to heal and how those outside the community can help. 

The Buffalo series looks back at the TOPS Supermarket tragedy on May 14, 2022, when a young man motivated by white supremacist rhetoric shot and killed ten people. Journalist Claretta Bellamy explores how the need for racial healing extends beyond terrible events of that day because of the persistent problems East Buffalo neighbors have in accessing fresh food, a crisis common in Black communities plagued by disinvestment. The series highlights how Alex Wright, founder of the African Heritage Food Co-op, and others including members of the Breaking Barriers healing circle, are seeking to create solutions to structural equities that are powered by the local community. 

Why This Matters

Buffalo’s story is the story of many U.S. cities. East Buffalo community members are still living with the impact of 20th century redlining and other inequitable infrastructural practices that blocked pathways to prosperity and contributed to declines in health and well-being. Behind the scenes, Buffalo’s story also reveals an almost unprecedented cross-sector collaboration of community leaders. The Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable, issued its Racial Equity Dividend Report in 2016, using local data to share historical and current opportunity gaps in education, job readiness, criminal justice, income and wealth. At that point, community leaders identified the overarching goal of achieving an expanded, inclusive economy. Likewise, CEOS from the region’s largest employers pledged to change their purchasing policies and practices to support local businesses owned by people of color.

Today, Buffalo’s cross-sector coalitions are advancing equity in business and the economy, juvenile justice and local media, as part of their Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation efforts supported by WKKF.

While healing happens personally and interpersonally through engagements like the racial healing circles profiled in the digital series, it also happens at the community level. This requires the active efforts of community members and leaders to develop relationships and commit to strategies for achieving a more equitable future.

The Opportunity

Advancing racial equity is hard work. Racial healing practices lay the groundwork for people to commit to the long process of repairing the damage caused by racism. The people-powered process of racial healing can start with a simple conversation, carefully facilitated with advice from our conversation guide.

To learn more, join us for the National Day of Racial Healing primetime townhalls on Jan. 17 at 10 p.m. on MSNBC and streamed on Noticias Telemundo at 7 p.m., and visit DayofRacialHealing.org to find events and activities near you.

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