Dean Keith A. Alford's Heartfelt Message to the Community

Published May 15, 2022

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Keith A. Alford

Keith A. Alford.

Dear SSW Community,

I write this message after a painfully sleepless and horrifying night. We have all seen the news stories and the flooding of messages on social media. I ache and I am sickened by what from all accounts was an outright act of hate and racism that was planned and calculated. Ten lives taken away from this world, killed, in a blink of an eye, right here in Buffalo—all because of hate. We know the trauma this has yet again inflicted on Black people and frankly humanity. I ache with numbness because of the rapidity of these episodes. When I received word yesterday afternoon of this heinous act, I was giving a talk to a large audience, literally addressing racial trauma and elevating the notion that because we are of different backgrounds and experiences, this does not mean less but rather greatergreater in the sense of our coming together and working diligently to promote equity.    

My heart and soul are wrapped around the victims and their families as we live through what has happened. I believe you join me in this deep sentiment. Our community, our city, our university, and our UB School of Social Work is in mourning right now. I ache in sorrow but even in our despair we must reach out and support. Racism is alive, but it will not thrive—it will not thrive!     

As we grieve the tragedy that took place at the Tops Supermarket on Jefferson Avenue, again, our thoughts are concentrated on the families and loved ones of the victims, those impacted the most. We echo and lift up the sentiment expressed by President Tripathi last night.  

It is disturbing beyond belief to learn that this was a racist-fueled attack carried out by a white supremacist on a predominately Black community. Again, the trauma inflicted by this tragedy extends beyond the walls of one store. As social workers, we know that racism and white supremacy harms us all. It is an ill that must be stamped out. It will not thrive! In the face of such hatred, we must uphold the shared values that brought us to social work, remaining grounded in our trauma-informed and human rights perspective.

To our Black students and colleagues, in particular, I grieve this tragedy with you. While I know we are in a space of pain at this very moment, we must still uphold our cardinal value of the worth and dignity of humankind. We will persevere and remain united. We will continue to lift up one another and the communities we serve. Together we will remain steadfast in boldly promoting racial and social justice. Racism will not thrive!

As we mourn, we also will comfort and support one another as members of this important community. If you need assistance, please know the resources below are available:

In solidarity and camaraderie,

Keith A. Alford, PhD, ACSW
Dean and Professor