Many of you know that I am very proudly from Buffalo, NY. Selenid and I live here currently with our two kids. Many of you also will have heard of the tragedy that occurred in Buffalo this past week. Anytime there is a violent act or an incident of domestic terrorism, it’s horrible. But to have it happen in your hometown is terrifying.
As a white male, I’m privileged not to have to worry about being targeted for the color of my skin, among many other privileges. It’s unfathomable, despicable, and sad beyond description that this happened and that 10 people lost their lives going about their daily routines.
My brother-in-law, Justin Twarog, is very active in the amazing community of Buffalo response to this tragedy. I asked him to share his thoughts given his involvement.
I’ll let him take it from here…
Angels in the Buffalo tragedy
“This past weekend, a white supremacist took the lives of 10 community members of Buffalo, NY. Because the color of their skin was black. Andre, one of the victims, was a father buying a cake for his 3 year old son. I see myself in Andre as I cry and look at his picture of him holding his son.
We both experienced the troubles of feeling vulnerable and trying to figure out how to bond with our son. We both experienced raising a son, with both the amazing moments and hardships. There is no difference between Andre and I, other than his skin is black. I will never experience something like this. Similarly, I will never understand the feeling as a black community member to know fear on a day to day basis of potentially being targeted because of your skin color. I go to the store every single day to buy groceries. Not once do I think that I could lose my life or be discriminated against because I am in a certain location at a certain time and my skin is black.
I can’t understand and I will never understand
But I can help.
This past Monday morning after a weekend of feeling sick to my stomach, I woke up to a call from God. I met an amazing individual by the name of Dakarai Singletary through a life long friend Keeon Colvin and began to take action. Through Dakarai and his organization, Candles in the S.U.N., we were able to provide much needed aid to the community affected by this tragedy.
Dakarai is the type of leader that the City of Buffalo needs, especially after this tragedy
He is here to assist the struggling neighborhoods of Buffalo. He deserves more support. It’s not right. But this tragedy has shown a light on the issues of food scarcity for certain communities in Buffalo. Through a few days of fundraising we were able to raise $10,000.00 for his organization, Candles in the S.U.N, to help address and other related causes.
We shared a moment where we cried in each other’s arms at Martin Luther King Junior Park in Buffalo where his organization put on one of many produce pop ups to help his community. It was a moment of unity, strength and determination. It was a moment I have known all of my life, where skin color didn’t matter but only love. We held each other and we knew we were on the same team.
Now, I continue to look at pictures of the victims and grieve with my neighbors. I can’t begin to imagine what it feels like to have your grandma run to the grocery store to gather food for a dinner with the family and instead lose her life because her skin color is black.
I continue to see myself in Andre and all of the victims, but to Andre I pray:
“Hello Andre, my name is Justin. I live in Kenmore, NY maybe 4-5 miles from where you live. I have a wife named Alli and a son named Linden not too much younger than your son. My wife’s birthday is in May just like your little boy. I want to say how proud I am of you. I want to pray to you how much of an impact just a couple pictures of you and your son has had an impact on me. And I know that you are waiting in heaven, but your death will not be in vain here on Earth. I promise you that your son will be taken care of.
Through Dakarai, Candles in the S.U.N., myself, everyone in our Buffalo community, your son will achieve more than you ever thought possible and you will be able to witness every second of it until we all meet you in heaven! I pray to you Andre, Amen.”
If you would like to learn more about the Candles in the S.U.N. organization, you can learn more here.