ROANOKE, Va. – The killing of innocent grocery store customers in Buffalo is bringing on a mix of emotions for many Americans.
The calculated nature of the attack, as described by law enforcement, may very well amplify the feeling of paranoia and anxiety many Black Americans experience, according to mental health professionals.
Those most impacted by this weekend’s rampage are those who lost loved ones and those who live in that community.
However, learning the attack was allegedly racially motivated and processing that Black people may have been targeted just for being Black has effects beyond Buffalo.
“These events that are happening outside of your community, in terms of geographics, are a thing that still affects you but they aren’t close. They’re like the bigger war, but you’re fighting these tiny wars every single day in your workspace to feel seen or heard, maybe in your community where you live,” explained Licensed Clinical Social Worker LaTonya Bolden.
The worshipers at a predominantly Black church, about a five-minute drive from the shooting, included families of the victims and some of those who were at the store when the rampage unfolded.
The church has historically been a place where social movements begin. ReFreshing Church in Roanoke is led by Bishop J. L. Jackson. These are conversations he is having with his congregation.
“For generations, we have been in the fight race divides and trying to find ways we can unite races together. It is unfortunate that we are still having that conversation,” said Jackson.
Bolden says expressing how you feel is the best start. Be honest about it. Then, step away from those feelings for a while.
“Cut the brain off for a second and engage our body in activity that helps us to regulate and calm down that sense of fight or flight,” said Bolden.