Dear Howard University Community,
It brings me great sadness to write to our community about another tragic mass shooting. This particular massacre, of course, hits very close to home as the shooter targeted a grocery store in a predominately Black community in Buffalo, shooting 13 people and killing 10, almost all of whom were Black.
This sort of gun violence is at once senseless and purposeful. The victims were innocent shoppers and workers who posed no threat to any person or place. And yet, their victimhood was no mere coincidence; the shooter allegedly intentionally chose a Black community to perpetrate his violence because he was motivated by the lies of white supremacy and the falsities that there is a plot to replace the white majority in American society.
At a Black church in Charleston in 2015, at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, at a Wal Mart in El Paso in 2019, and now at a grocery store in Buffalo, we see the consequences of conspiracy theory and the ramifications of renouncing truth. We cannot denounce this violence unless we equally and unequivocally condemn the falsehoods that enflame it. When untruths are given safe passage and safe harbor in our society, violence is the result.
While we have become accustomed to these recurring tragedies, we can never tolerate their regularity. No matter how often they occur, racist mass shootings are not inevitable, and we must not allow ourselves to perceive them as such.
As the present-day torch bearers of Howard University, it is our duty to champion truth, to amplify facts and to extinguish lies. Through our words and our deeds, we must uphold truth as the essential pillar upon which our society stands. Through the research we conduct and the education we provide, through the art we produce and the stories we tell, we must repeat the facts that give shape to our society while stamping out the falsehoods that undermine it.
Lies are powerful; the violence they inspire is a testament to that. But the truth is more powerful still. In this painful moment, let us once again band together as a community vested in the truth and dedicated to eradicating the lies and hate that are the true threats to our society.
Excellence in Truth and Service,
Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA
Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery