The nation was still reeling from a deadly shooting blamed on an alleged white supremacist in Buffalo, New York, an anti-Asian shooting in Dallas’ Koreatown neighborhood and slayings at a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods, California, when a gunman killed at least 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday.
Now, Black and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are showing their solidarity with the Latino population in Uvalde at a time when calls to protect America’s most disadvantaged populations are becoming increasingly urgent. Latino and Hispanic residents make up 72.7 percent of Uvalde County’s population, according to census data.
“I hope that we can use this moment to lean on one another,” said Chas Moore, the founder of the Austin Justice Coalition, a Black-led social justice organization. “The Black community just went through the terrible hate crime that happened in Buffalo. Now the Latino community is going through this. Our communities are mourning.”
Civil rights leaders across communities have been texting and emailing with one another since the Dallas and Buffalo shootings this month, said John C. Yang, the president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
“Even after the Buffalo, Laguna Woods and Dallas shootings, all of our communities had been talking to each other by text, cellphone and email,” he said.
With every shooting comes a new discussion, he said, and the constant communications often feel bleak.
“Those conversations have been angry, sad, frustrated,” he said. “When we get on the phone with each other, we all have this recognition of ‘here we go again.’ Because this is not the first time we’ve had these conversations.”
Similar discussions, as well as joint communications directed at the White House, have taken place after shootings at Asian-owned spas in Atlanta; a Walmart in El Paso, Texas; Emanuel AME Baptist Church in Charleston, South Carolina; and the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. “The list has gone on,” he said.
“At a very basic level, I would ask people to reach out to your friends and neighbors in the different communities that have been affected,” Yang said. “Just open up that conversation and be courageous in your discomfort. We recognize that some of these conversations will be hard and uncomfortable, but we need to have them.”
Authorities said an 18-year-old man barricaded himself in a classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde and opened fire on students and teachers. Uvalde, about 83 miles west of San Antonio, is in a region with a large Mexican American population, and about 87 percent of the school’s students are considered economically disadvantaged.
Yang said the violence against three communities puts a spotlight on the dangers of existing as a minority in the U.S.
Since the massacre, photos of the victims have been shared online, groups have created numerous fundraisers to support the families of the victims, and calls for stricter gun laws have begun dominating the national conversation. Moore said that as the Austin Justice Coalition discusses concrete ways to support the community less than three hours away, he hopes the tragedy will result in even more solidarity.
“This can happen anywhere. After the grieving, I hope Black and brown communities can organize to fight for gun safety laws. Something has to change,” Moore said.
Outrage over Texas’ relaxed gun laws has followed the elementary school shooting, especially because Gov. Greg Abbott signed seven laws last June to expand gun rights — one of the laws allows people to carry handguns without licenses. While many people have blamed the shooting, in part, on the state’s lack of gun control laws, experts, who have said that wasn’t the case in Buffalo, have attributed the slayings to the country’s history of racist terror.
And as gun violence affects three distinct communities, solidarity among them doesn’t take just a single form, said Manju Kulkarni, a co-founder of the civil rights organization Stop AAPI Hate.
“It involves at a minimum acknowledging what is happening to other communities, seeing that the hate against African Americans is both similar to but also different from what our AAPI communities are experiencing,” she said.
Policy solutions can’t be one-sided, she said, and leaders need to put forward legislation that would benefit all communities of color. Kulkarni acknowledged that minority communities might feel silenced and hopeless when it comes to creating change. Nineteen states enacted voting restrictions last year; experts say the measures will worsen access to the ballot box for people of color.
“I get it that right now people feel that government is inept,” she said. “This is what we have, this is the way we share our collective voice, but democracy has to work.”
For those who don’t have national platforms to address violence, solidarity can be as simple as checking on those they care about, donating to mutual aid operations or openly expressing their anger, advocates said.