With racial violence and division at an all time high, next generation ways of thinking must emerge about Race.
Almost two months ago, 10 Black Americans were shot and murdered by a White Supremacist shooter, known as the Buffalo Massacre. In the time since society has been inundated with other news subjects such as the Uvalde Mass Shooting, the ending of Roe. v. Wade, Jan 6th Committee hearings and many other objects of national interest. But at Positive Identity, we haven’t stopped thinking about Buffalo. We are posting this article because we have come to the conclusion that how we fundamentally approach race needs to change.
At Positive Identity we are inspired by people of all races and identities and what they’re capable of with our work focused on creating positive perception when it comes to race. Which means a great deal of our work is analyzing how people approach race, and monitoring how mass media and social media deal with race.
While the attention of Americans had moved on to other topics, many didn’t realize that the massacre marked a major shift in race relations and how we deal with them. For two reasons.
The first is that that Buffalo shooter isn’t an isolated incident, but one that is a continuation of many other violent racist attacks driven by hate media the shooter was consuming. He eventually became so inundated with these hate communities and their discussions of racism and violence that he resorted to bloodshed and thus the Buffalo Massacre. This event is what we call Stochastic Terrorism.
Stochastic Terrorism is a new term that has been making its way into mainstream understanding and the Buffalo Massacre is almost a textbook example of it. Stochastic Terrorism is defined as “The use of mass public communication, usually against a particular individual or group, which incites or inspires acts of terrorism which are statistically probable but happen seemingly at random.”
Essentially the way it works is a group of people demonize a target and eventually someone will be so overtaken by this information that they will then resort to real world terrorism against the target/group being demonized. Buffalo was almost a textbook example of this. What makes the Buffalo shooter incident so terrifying, is that there is currently nothing we can do to stop it.
Stochastic terrorism is a new and rapidly growing monster. In the recent past, hate speech and calls to racial violence used to be on pamphlets and small newspapers that were hard and expensive to share. This kept them limited in scope and easy for regular society to pressure back into hiding. Now because of the internet, these calls to violence and hate can instantly be sent around the world with the click of a button and it completely changed the battle. Half a decade ago the hot solution to beat this was by deplatforming these hate groups and individuals from websites and social media platforms. This largely resulted in some success and became standard policy. However we’re now realizing it was a temporary option to stop a much larger tidal wave. Currently we’re seeing an emergence of new social media platforms that prevent deplatforming of hate groups and even outright agree with them. Further the creation of countless digital places to organize has made the game of whack a mole next to impossible. Thus the people who drive the hate based conversations that lead to terrorism are thriving again. And their language of hate and violence is escalating.
The second part is being able to take violent action. In America this manifests itself in guns. With 400 million guns, easy access to buy more, and the ability to make/manufacture guns, every person has the opportunity to achieve weaponized capacity. Further no gun law possible can stop this. As such, this rapidly spreading and growing hate communication allows it to reach a population that can militarize like nothing we’ve ever seen before in history.
The pipeline is entirely there for an explosion of violence because of the unique elements that make up how America works. In the Buffalo case, these hate ecosystems led to a White individual, being inundated with a hate based White ideology, to then buy heavy weaponry and commit stochastic terrorism.
The question is, how many more are like this shooter? 100? 10,000? A million? More?
Further, as this is written, hate crimes have risen to the highest they’ve been in 10 years and race relations have collapsed to new lows.
The current approach is failing us. Yet at Positive Identity, we know society has met many great challenges in the past and have always found a way to overcome. That inspiring belief in our ability to find a way, is how we can solve this new opponent.
Firstly we’ll get you up to speed about our current approach. We’re a non-partisan organization, and we see ourselves on the side of everyone. Our aim being reconciliation and collaboration between all sides. We want this country to come together and people of all races to work for each other. We want everyone to win.
We create content that shows Asian, Black, Hispanic, Mixed, Native and White people in a positive light doing good things for each other and for America. Positive perception creates positive action and our track record over the years shows that we want everyone to be seen in a positive light.
Much of the racial conflict comes from people feeling like their racial identity is hated and under attack. This Buffalo shooter specifically felt the White race was under attack. One of the core missions of Positive Identity is to counteract that perception by creating a space for people to love their racial identity, and to show people of different races having a positive relationship with people like them. We want people to be inspired by the good being done by people like them and to follow in those footsteps. And find joy in people not like them being a positive force for people like them. This creates positive perception and positive perception leads to positive action.
The major problem we have been facing is that we’re small and our work isn’t really out there yet. We hope that will change. The other major problem is that our organization is built to give people of all racial identities generally the same focus. We’re for everyone so we have to make sure our media is for everyone.
When it comes to building a positive racial identity, few would argue White people need a special amount of focus.
Right now, Buffalo is partially the result of the White community going through a rapid transformation. From Charlottesville, to the Christchurch shooting, to the El Paso shooting, and now Buffalo, the demon of White Supremacy has led to some of the most violent and deadly attacks in the 21st century. One of the major reasonings for this is that the White community is going through a major change in self-perception, seeing themselves as a race for the first time. (NYT: White People are Noticing Something New, Their Own Whiteness, Economist: White Americans are beginning to realize that they too belong to a race. Yet the material around developing a positive or modern White Identity is in the petri dish stages of development. Which means the only literature out there on “what it means to be White” are by the hate based organizations of the past like the KKK, White Nationalists and such. Because of that, these White people who are experiencing their race for the first time only have these destructive pieces on Whiteness and what it means to be White. For them, being White means to be under siege, that you are hated and your identity is based on how you can conquer and defeat those who are not White. They’ve developed a negative relationship with Whiteness and the world and this ideology is spreading at a breakneck pace.
Something must be done. At Positive Identity, what we’re going to do expand our mission as we pursue radical ways of stopping racial violence. While our work at Positive Identity is small on the grand scheme of things, our practice of creating positive media and positive action will provide a key to Whiteness, how we approach race, and to make sure the racial division, violence is stopped. And this growing monster of scholastic terrorism is destroyed.
While the challenge seems daunting, we believe in every American and human of every identity. We know that everyone is capable of great good and greatness and seek to emulate those values. We believe in our ability to change, and to grow. That inspiring belief in everyone must be what leads the way. In a society that is falling to pessimism on the direction of this country, we must counteract that by doing things from the positive. So people can believe again.
By Stephen Grey