Hate and violence belong in history books - not the news

June 20, 2016

People at a vigil for Orlando holding up signs with photos of the victimsThe mass shooting at Pulse in Orlando has shaken the country and we are still grieving the lives that were lost. This tragedy has also had a disproportionate impact on LGBT people of color, who were targeted that night and who are too often the victims of hate crimes. This time, it was on a scale that the country couldn’t ignore.

This tragedy brought the complexity of the intersection of identities into the spotlight. We often talk separately about issues communities of color, LGBT communities, and religious communities face without recognizing that we all have multiple identities that shape our experiences. If we are going to begin to understand what different communities face, we must continue talking and working with people who come from backgrounds and experiences that may be very different from our own.

Having dialogues is important, but it’s not enough. We’ve seen in many places across the country that tragedy is often a catalyst for taking action and making real change, and this should be no exception. If we want to honor the lives that were lost, we need to take action so hate crimes and violence are talked about in history books and not in the news.

It is important to put our words into practice and stand with the LGBT communities, and in particular the Latinx LGBT community that was most affected by this tragedy. Listen, and share their stories. Reach out to your LGBT friends, neighbors, and family members and ask how you can support them. Show your support publicly and stand with them at vigils, parades, and marches. Don’t let this community stand alone.

We all have a role to play in changing the culture of our communities and the systems that run them. We all have internalized so many of the negative messages we are bombarded with every day. These messages influence our thoughts and actions, often subconsciously. At the same time, our current policies and systems perpetuate the marginalization of so many in this country.

Next, we need to create inclusive neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and government. This includes making marginalized communities visible and making their voices heard in all aspects of public life. It means truly listening and taking into consideration everyone’s opinions and ideas, as well as sharing decision-making power. It also means having safe spaces for marginalized communities to gather without fear.

The massacre in Orlando is yet another reminder that we still have a long way to go. As we continue our work to create inclusive communities, we hope that you will join us in standing with and supporting the LGBT community, particularly the Latinx LGBT community, that was most affected by this tragic event.


Read more:

Our differences do not have to become our divisons

How people have already taken action in the wake of Orlando

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Mayme Webb Bledsoe of the Duke Durham Neighborhood Partnership Uses Dialogue to Lift Voices in the Duke / Durham Community 

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