President’s Message- May 2022-Time to Remove Our MasksWalt Williams

This article appeared in the Edwardsville Intelligencer, May 25, 2022

Now that I got your attention, what I am implying from the title of this opinion piece is that we as a community must figuratively remove our masks. Our masks have hidden a deep racial divide in this county.   More importantly, our masks have cover-up the deep roots of structural racism, which contributes to an equal income, employment, and housing and poor health outcomes for Black people relative to white people.

After this past weekend’s events, our hearts are heavy as we continue to learn new developments regarding today’s racially motivated shooting that left 10 people dead and another three wounded in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, NY.

NAACP’s National President Derrick Johnson commented, “The cruel act committed, including the killing of elderly Black women, further solidifies the need for the NAACP’s presence and relevance. America cannot remain oblivious to the fact that racism and discrimination continue to plague our country.”

The NAACP is demanding the 18-year-old be brought to justice swiftly and decisively.  The hate and vile acts of this gunman to wear a tactical vest, briefly livestreamed the shooting on Twitch, and allegedly wrote and published a 180-page manifesto via 4Chan, an online social forum in which he espoused racist ideas and white supremacist ideology including the “great replacement” theory, or a belief that liberals are intentionally replacing white people with minorities in the U.S. for political benefit needs to be held accountable and punished to the full extent allowable by law.

We believe that this act was an act of Domestic Terrorism.  To refresh your memories-The shooting follows other recent high-profile alleged hate crimes in the U.S., including the targeting of Hispanics during a deadly shooting in El Paso, Texas in 2019 and a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018.

This act is a National Emergency in communities of color.   There is nothing isolated about ongoing calculated attacks in some of the most vulnerable places for our communities.

Fighting Forward this year’s theme is appropriate to help a community grasp and overcome the tragedy that occurred. In a tweet, Derrick Johnson said, “Black people are tired. But tired doesn’t mean defeat. We’re gonna fight like hell because our sons, daughters, brothers, sister, parents, and loved ones are being shot and killed by white supremacists every day.”

I challenge the reader that you are either with me or against me.  There is no in-between.  All NAACP Constituents are encouraged to “say something” if they “see something” and to involve local authorities immediately. It is time to remove your mask and speak out about the racial divide in this county.

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