When public heartbreak is the tip of a very ugly iceberg.

Posted by on June 12, 2016 in Leadership | 0 comments

When public heartbreak is the tip of a very ugly iceberg.

I’m heartbroken about the shooting in Orlando at the Pulse, a gay bar, on Latinx night. It chrystalizes for me a lot about how I try to show up in the world & support others to show up. This and (too many) other mass shootings are most visible part, the tip of a huge iceberg of violence against LGBTQ people, people of color, & immigrants. The rest of the iceberg looks like individual trans women of color being fired, beat up & killed, kids being mocked & ostracized at school & imagebeat up on a daily basis. That iceberg includes attacks on Arab & Muslim people, it includes the ways we talk about shooters as “mentally ill,” ostracizing people with mental health disabilities and resulting in a system where people don’t get the health care they need.

The seeds of this violence are planted in small daily acts we all see and participate in – like when we make jokes (or let them stand), which come at the expense of others based on their identity. Make no mistake, the attempts to frame this kind of terrorist act as a “mental health issue” or as “Islamic terrorism” expand this iceberg & make it stronger.

People with these identities walk around carrying that iceberg – the possibility of violence at any given moment. People with identities that are accepted in our society are also impacted by this iceberg. It chills us – makes us unnecessarily fear others & distorts how we see those around us. It hangs over us, with a threat that if we don’t conform, we too will lose our jobs, our friends, or even our lives.

On the other hand, the warmth of love & inclusion begins to melt the iceberg. Each time we show up and challenge a racist, anti-immigrant, anti-gay/trans, anti-Muslim slur, we chip off a chunk. These kinds of attacks are about who is considered a part of our society & who is safe. Attacks like this look for the folks we push out of our social circles and target them in small daily tragedies and occasionally as larger collective tragedies.

We all have a responsibility to create, join & expand circles that include all our human siblings. In saying that some are like us and others are not, we communicate who can be attacked. In the same way that people are lining up to give blood to the victims, let us all work harder to show up for eachother each and every day and make our communities more inclusive & united.

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