On Saturday, May 14th, 2022, the city of Buffalo experienced an unspeakable tragedy as 10 people lost their lives and many more were injured in a mass shooting that occurred at a Tops Supermarket. According to official reports, this heinous crime was hate-filled and racially motivated, specifically targeting members of the Black community. While this crime was committed in Buffalo, we feel its impact here. As we reflected on our statement as a College and Seminary, Dr. Sonnette Bascoe shared her heart in the words below. Together we decided to let you hear directly from her.
— President Porterfield and Dr. Ben Espinoza, Special Co-Advisor for Diversity & Belonging.
"As a member of the Black community, when these unfortunate events happen to our people, we feel it personally as if it were our own loved ones who were the victims. When I learned of this tragedy, I was with another Black female. We listened to the news report in silence while tears flowed down our cheeks. Someone’s mother, father, son, daughter, uncle, aunt, coworker, neighbor, and friend were suddenly no longer here all because of the color of their skin in 2022.
A person that my family knows right here in Rochester lost their uncle. The Tops Supermarket is one my husband has visited when he attended law school at the University of Buffalo. To think that in 2022 you can’t even go shopping without losing your life because you’re Black is so unimaginably painful to process. As I write these words, it’s inevitable to be emotional. To all of our Black students, staff, and faculty, I know exactly how you’re feeling, and I want you to know that you don’t have to apologize for being angry, sad, confused, hurt, or any other way.
These tragedies are senseless and traumatizing. I pray that God sends us comfort in a way that only He can during times like this. The Counseling Center and the Office of Spiritual Life is available for you to use their services for support free of charge. I’m available to you as well. I love you and stand in solidarity with you.
To the rest of the Roberts and NES community, your love and prayers are appreciated but more can be done. The Bible tells us, “let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). This is a time when we can stand up in action. We have to be so tired of these racially motivated incidents happening. We have to be so tired and disgusted that it propels us into action. As a Roberts community, we were invited to read Dr. Hart’s book, Who Will Be a Witness: Igniting God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance. Dr. Hart provided concrete and practical ways to take action.
This is a time to create change in our society and model what it means to be a beloved community. So, in this time of grieving and solidarity, let us recognize the humanity within all of us, and work to cultivate a truly beloved community characterized by love, justice, and compassion that moves us to action. As a Christian college, let us commit ourselves to combating racism, anti-Blackness, and racial hatred through our tangible efforts."
Dr. Sonnette Bascoe
Special Co-Advisor to the President for Diversity & Belonging