I’m a Black man in NC. The Buffalo shooting has me living in profound fear.

·3 min read
MATT ROURKE AP

Welcome to NC Voices, where leaders, readers and experts from across North Carolina can speak on issues affecting our communities. Send submissions of 350 words or fewer to opinion@newsobserver.com.

I’m Black, scared and devastated

The writer is Raleigh-Apex NAACP president and a North Carolinians Against Gun Violence board member.

I’ve cried so many times since the shooting in Buffalo.

What hits me is that people like Andre Mackniel, who was trying to buy a birthday cake for his 3-year-old son, were killed because of the color of their skin.

I’ve always wondered how my great-grandparents felt during the attack on the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church when four Black girls were killed by white supremacists. I wish I had asked them, but when I grew up we didn’t really talk to seniors about the most troubling times. We simply followed their example of perseverance, keeping faith and hope.

But now I’m sad. I’m angry. I’m devastated.

Everyone who was shot and killed in Buffalo is a victim of white supremacy. The shooter was trying to kill as many Blacks as possible.

All Americans must see those who embrace racial hatred as the real enemy and stop fueling the madness of racism.

All Americans are bound by our humanity and citizenship. From the colonies to the digital age, we have taken this journey together. During the best and worst of times, we have tried to make this country a better place for generations to come.

From time to time, we had to look in the mirror and realize that we had to do a better job. Today we have to see that the notions of white supremacy and freedom in the world cannot coexist.

Divisiveness, gun violence and racism in the U.S. are out of control. There is nowhere for Americans to be safe. We can’t go to the grocery store, school or church.

That Buffalo shooter said in his manifesto that he had tried since the age of 12 to develop his own ideology. At 18, he described himself as a racist, antisemitic, and white supremacist. How sad.

Ten Blacks are dead because their skin color is the same as mine. That is the profound fear I live with everyday.

Gerald D. Givens Jr., Raleigh

Opioid settlement: Use it to help kids

The writers are a senior scientist and a pediatrician at UNC’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.

Thousands of North Carolina children are adversely affected by parents with opioid use disorder (OUD) and many end up in foster care.

In 2021, drug use was a contributing factor in 41% of N.C. foster care placements. These children are at very high risk for becoming the next generation of individuals with OUD because of childhood adversities that impair their ability to regulate behavior and emotion. Solutions are urgently needed.

Help is on the way if we wisely invest the pharmaceutical settlement money about to be delivered to local communities.

Officials across the state are due to receive $750 million as part of a $26 billion national settlement to combat the opioid crisis through treatment, law enforcement and prevention programs.

Investing in prevention approaches promises to break the intergenerational cycle of substance abuse. Research shows that the development of substance/opioid use disorders is preceded by a variety of psychological and behavioral problems, including academic failure, conduct issues, impulsivity, anxiety, depression and stress-related disorders — and that these problems are often rooted in poverty, family dysfunction, inequities and lack of community supports.

A comprehensive prevention strategy would reduce the root causes of SUD/OUD through programs proven to improve the health and well-being of our children.

Certain parenting, school and community-based programs have been shown to prevent children and teens from developing OUD by strengthening control over impulsive reactions, fostering healthy relationships, teaching ways to manage stress, reducing traumatic experiences, and providing nurturing settings. Particularly effective programs include Triple P, Family Connects, the Good Behavior Game, and Life Skills Training.

Making these programs widely available and supporting their implementation with state and regional resources has the greatest potential to significantly reduce OUD. The settlement monies can move us closer to this reality.

Diana Fishbein

Dr. Melissa Clepper-Faith