In May 2022, a racist traveled several hours to kill 10 people at the Tops Friendly Market in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo. Last week, he was sentenced to life in prison. What I remember most about the event is that I could barely process it at the time. I was exhausted by this temporarily-latest instance of America’s oldest story: crush Black resources, Black community, Black bodies, and Black life.
I couldn’t wade into the details at the time. I wrote recently of my decision not to watch the video of Memphis police beating to death Tyre Nichols. I believe my determination there was hardened after Buffalo. Instead of reliving that massacre, I sought out a counter-narrative. Within weeks of the incident, I found myself in my hometown of Washington, D.C., and the closest place I could go to process the tragedy was the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.
I reached out to a friend, a curator at the museum, texting that I needed to see “anything healing, joyful, inspiring. The opposite of Buffalo.” I had been to the museum once before and was floored by the intensity of the experience. It should be mandatory for all Americans or would-be Americans. I would personally pay for every presidential candidate to spend a day in that building. It’s beyond a collection of artifacts. It’s a physical, informational, and emotional journey chronicling the story of America through the story of the people still treated as un-American despite building and defining so much of this country and its culture.