NAME Statement on Jacksonville FL Shootings
The National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) exists to end the recurring nature of systemic intersectional racism, prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, bias, and oppression. Yet ongoing hate-filled violence, elevated by rightwing politicians, continues to target people of color cultivating a centuries long white supremacist culture of fear. Such was the case with the August 26 mass shootings in Jacksonville, FL, where a 21-year-old white supremacist stoked by hate and armed with an assault rifle assassinated three Black people before taking his own life. Authorities quickly determined that the killings were motivated by the shooter’s hatred for African Americans.
The frequency of such bigotry-borne violence normalizes war against Black communities, and rapidly extends to other communities of color, LGBTQ-plus communities, and those who diverge from a white supremacist vision. Recent examples include:
On May 14, 2022, a gunman entered the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, NY, and shot 13 people, 10 fatally at the grocery store in the mostly African American neighborhood. In that hatred-fueled mass shooting, an 18-year-old suspect was taken into custody. He had posted online a 180-page document detailing how he “planned to kill as many Blacks as possible.”
On June 17, 2015, in Charleston, SC, at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church, a 21-year-old white supremacist and neo-Nazi gunned down nine African Americans during a Bible study class. His goal was to ignite a race war.
On October 27, 2018, at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue during a service, a 46-year-old truck driver fatally shot 11 people and wounded six others in the deadliest attack ever on the Jewish community in the United States.
On March 16, 2021, in Atlanta, a 21-year-old gunman killed eight people, six who were Asian women, at three day spas.
On June 12, 2016, in Orlando, FL, a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at Pulse, a gay nightclub, representing the deadliest act of violence against the LGBTQ-plus community in the United States.
On August 3, 2019, in El Paso, TX, a 21-year-old gunman fatally shot 23 people at a Walmart store and wounded 22 others in what’s been called the deadliest attack on Latinos in U.S. history.
The United States already has a serious problem that threatens to mirror the late 19th century and the mid-20th century when 4,084 “racial terror lynchings in 12 Southern states” occurred and more than 300 racial terror lynchings in other states also took place in this time period, as documented by the Equal Justice Initiative based in Montgomery, AL. The
difference in today’s violence is the inclusiveness of those victimized by white supremacists armed with guns; few whose existence contradicts this white supremacist movement are safe.
People attending an August 27 prayer vigil for the victims in the Jacksonville mass shooting were justified in booing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis when he stepped to the microphone to speak. DeSantis, a popular Republican presidential candidate, has based his campaign and his previous public service on removing voting rights for Black communities and ensuring school and college curriculum reinforces his white supremacist agenda, stating emphatically that Florida is where “woke goes to die.” NAME recognizes his calls to violence against Black communities as what it is: a challenge to the existence of Black people, LGBTQ-plus communities, and all people of color.
As is the case year-round and with all NAME conferences, the November 2023 gathering in Montgomery, AL, will stress with its many speakers and workshops the continuing and growing need for multicultural education to counter the swelling malignancy of hatred and violence against people of color and other long-oppressed groups. NAME knows that when people step out of their comfort zone, study the nation’s growing diversity and get to know people who are different from them that they will view all as valued human beings. That is the only way we can continue to make progress as a united people in these United States.