Sayrie: Only real reform can stop the war on Black bodies

This past Saturday, May 14, 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron drove a little over 200 miles from Conklin, New York to Buffalo, New York. Three and a half hours.

He pulls into Tops, a grocery store in the heart of a predominantly Black community. Using an AR-15 with the word nigger written on the barrel, he began shooting and killing victims in the parking lot before entering into the store shooting round after round. By the end of his racially-motivated massacre he’d killed 10 people and injured three. Eleven out of the 13 victims were Black. The gruesome ordeal was livestreamed from start to finish on Twitch. For sport. He declared Open Season and documented his massacre of Black lives for sport.

He contemplated taking his own life, but had the privilege of being coaxed into not doing so by two officers. He lowered his weapon, removed all of his body armor, and surrendered. He was arrested unharmed and alive.

Once again, I find myself heartbroken for my community. It’s taken me a few days to even partially digest what has happened. The crime in itself is disgusting but it’s the aftermath that makes it worse.

There was an immediate scramble to place blame. It didn’t take long before mental health and claims of a false flag operation entered into the picture. Frustratingly, words like “extremist” and “fringe” are everywhere you look.

It’s as if the masses want to create distance between themselves and the perpetrator. A divide in which to hide, to say this is not the norm, and their hands are clean.

Does no one want to admit that the patriarchal White Supremacist structure of America continues to give birth to terrorists like this? That its offspring are groomed to believe they are superior and that racial domination is their birthright? For just this once let’s not pretend that he’s not being celebrated in pockets all across America. Let’s not pretend this event was unique and will not happen again. Let’s not pretend.

His actions should not be classified as extreme. His actions should not be classified as fringe. His actions were foreseeable and should have been prevented. Furthermore, his actions rooted in his beliefs tied to replacement theory were stoked by mainstream politics. Categorizing what happened in any other way is to avoid the real evil that is White Supremacy. It is to avoid the blatantly clear messaging that freedom is White.

It certainly isn’t Black.

To be Black in America is to have an open wound with no salve.
To be Black in America is to be shot 12 times with your hands raised.
To be Black in America is to be shot point blank in the back of the head.
To be Black in America is not being able to breathe until dying in a chokehold.
To be Black in America is for these things to happen to you by the same system that serves and protects.

By what rules are we supposed to play? Uncle? BB Bridges? There is no mercy even when we take the moral high ground.

“Why do you always have to make it about race?” 

#RobertaADrury age 32
#MargusDMorrison age 52
#AndreMackneil age 53
#AaronSalter age 55
#GeraldineTalley age 62
#CelestineChaney age 65
#HeywardPatterson age 67
#KatherineMassey age 72
#PearlYoung age 77
#RuthWhitfield age 86
Wounded Zaire Goodman age 20
Jennifer Warrington age 50 
Christopher Braden age 55


I don’t want to see another hashtag. I want to see the dismantling of White Supremacy. It is a monster that is coming for you if you are a person of color, a woman, young, old, poor, or a member of a dispensable marginalized group. Shock, thoughts and prayers… it’s a useless cycle. 

We need real reform.

A native of Phoenix, Arizona Aundrea Sayrie is a firm believer in the power of words, faith and a strong spirit. Her greatest desire is to encourage those around her to discover and honor their truth, and to passionately live on purpose.

Any views or opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Watershed Voice staff or its board of directors.