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Mother of Buffalo Shooting Victim Says “This Is Exactly Who We Are”

By SP Staff

Zeneta Everhart, whose 21-year-old son, Zaire Goodman, survived the May 14 Buffalo shooting by a white supremacist that left 10 Black people dead, testified before the House Oversight Committee Wednesday that domestic terrorism exists in this country for three reasons, the first being that “America is inherently violent.” 

“The very existence of this country was founded on violence, hate, and racism, with the near annihilation of my native brothers and sisters,” she continued. “My ancestors, brought to America thorough the slave trade, were the first currency of America…stripped of their heritage and culture, bargained for…sold, beaten, raped, and lynched. Yet I continuously hear after every mass shooting that this is not who we are as Americans and as a nation. Hear me clearly: this is exactly who we are.” 

Everhart cited the failures of America’s educational system and its attempts to omit—or at least make it difficult to find — the real history of Black Americans and Indigenous peoples. She recounts, “the majority of what I learned about African American history I did not learn until I went to college, and I had to choose those classes…why is African American history not a part of American history?” 

“We have to change the curriculum in schools across the country so that we may adequately educate our children,” Everhart declared. “Reading about history is crucial to the future of this country. Learning about other cultures, ethnicities, and religions in schools should not be something that’s up for debate…our differences should make us curious, not angry. At the end of the day, I bleed, you bleed, we are all human.” 

Everhart, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy, cited guns as a third cause of domestic terrorism. She pointed out that the Buffalo killer’s parents gave him a shotgun for his 16th birthday, adding “Children should not be armed with weapons, parents who provide their children with guns should be held accountable, and lawmakers who …allow these mass shootings to continue, by not passing stricter gun laws should be voted out.” 

“To the lawmakers who feel that we do not need stricter gun laws, let me paint a picture for you,” Everhart said. My son Zaire has a hole in the right side of his neck, two on his back and another on his left leg caused by an exploding bullet from an AR-15. As I clean his wounds, I can feel pieces of that bullet in his back. Shrapnel will be left inside of his body for the rest of his life. Now, I want you to picture that exact scenario for one of your children.”

She called on the lawmakers to draft “common sense gun laws…No citizen needs an AR-15. These weapons are designed to do the most harm in the least amount of time.” She noted it took the Buffalo killer just two minutes to kill 10 people and injure three others. “If, after hearing from me and the other people testifying here today does not move you to act on gun laws, I invite you to my home to help me clean Zaire’s wounds so that you may see up close, the damage that has been caused to my son, and to my community.” 

Everhart concluded by quoting Charles Blow’s “The Devil We Know:” “Race as we have come to understand it, is a fiction, but racism, as we have come to live it, is a fact.” 

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