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Experts explain ripple effect racial hate crimes have on communities of color

Police arrested 18-year-old Payton Gendron in connection with the shooting after he opened fire, killing 10 people and injuring three others in a supermarket

HARTFORD, Conn — Communities are mourning following the racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo on Saturday, May 14. 

Police arrested 18-year-old Payton Gendron in connection with the shooting after he opened fire, killing 10 people and injuring three others in a supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood. Officials believe the shooter was a white supremacist. 

Dr. Javeed Sukhera, Chair of Psychiatry at Hartford Hospital, had lived through this kind of violence when his family and friends were murdered for being visibly Muslim in London, Ontario, Canada while going for a Sunday walk. 

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Dr. Sukhera explained that the racist hate crime in Buffalo can create harm and trauma for many communities of color.

"Because every one of those beautiful people, it isn't like, oh, that could've been us; They were us," explained Dr. Sukhera.  

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These sentiments struck communities of color in Capitol City. As more horrific details uncover about the Buffalo shooting, black communities are also grieving and worried about what this means for minorities. 

"It's scary," said Tina Yambot. "It's just scary being black in general." 

"You can't go to church; you cant normal live life or go to the grocery store," said Ivelisse Correa, Chair of BLM860. "So, what are we supposed to do?"

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Dr. Sukhera said these reactions and questions are not uncommon to have. 

"These actions directly or indirectly accumulate and leave a residue behind that functions just like trauma to the brain," explained Dr. Sukhera. "It is normal to be afraid after an event like this where black communities were specifically targeted doing something that was such an important everyday thing."   

He said it triggers a response that people of color have to carry 24/7. 

"It's just that everywhere you now look, it's like all these killings, and it's just awful, and it's mostly blacks who are being targeted," Yambot said.  

Abimbola Oretade, who is with BLM860, agreed and said, "We don't know if we might lose our life today, you get what I'm saying. It's like a coin flip now." 

While worry is still at the top of minds for many, Hartford neighbors said it's also a time to unite.

"To come together and all love each other," proclaimed grocery shopper Dennis Lee. " It's too much hate."

Dr. Sukhera said the best way to move forward is to acknowledge those emotions people of color often suppress and allow space to grieve. 

"Validating the hurt is important," Dr. Sukhera explained. "Naming it and not pretending like it isn't affecting people's well-being is important, but i also think it's healing once we bring it up and have others who speak up and support things like this NOT happening."

Dr. Sukhera added that it's essential that people of color center their joy and cultural authenticity and not let anyone take that light away from communities of color.

Raquel Harrington is the race and culture reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at rharrington@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


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