‘The Time has Come,’ the ?Walrus said

Jun 22, 2016 at 10:39 am
‘The Time has Come,’ the ?Walrus said

Again, Americans witnessed horrific violence in the Orlando mass shooting that left 49 victims dead. Many of us cried at the news. Some of us couldn’t cry. The violence happens too often, and it is hard to feel every time. It becomes routine to hear of such a tragedy. It is common to feel shocked and sad, and then feel nothing, because it seems so removed from our lives.

Orlando isn’t removed from us. It is us.

The mentality that created this monster was borne of a culture that glorifies violence and gunmetal. It is the same culture that struggles to see certain segments — gay, ethnic or both —  of our population as people. Blaming Islam, despite the initial claims of a connection to a terrorist group, is wrong, too easy and overly simplistic.

We are too quick to blame a group for the actions of few. Islam didn’t commit these crimes: this killer did. Sure, he made a statement about ISIS, and ISIS returned the favor. But claiming those who act in violence, despite the lack of any real connections, makes this group appear bigger, and more threatening, than they really are.

So we are left to theorize further. What caused this tragedy? Why did he choose these people? What if he had no access to this gun?

The speculations will grow and shift, and we will hear sad stories of those who didn’t make it, and stories of those who did. We will continue to search for the easy answer, but there isn’t one.

The truth lies somewhere in all the voices who were there, who knew the victims and those who knew the killer. The truth is likely a mishmash of culture, personal obsessions, hatred and self-loathing. Honestly, we may never know.

The one lesson gleaned from this latest event is that, in all of our lives, there are factors that make us radically unique, and wholly different from the people around us. Sometimes this is a great thing. Other times, it is greatly uncomfortable, even unlivable.

It means that we approach the world in ways particular to our points of view, and our personal intersections. I say this because, as the fallout from Orlando continues, we will hear the usual theories and answers, but none of these will be a catch-all remedy to these kinds of events. We will hear talking-heads ruminate on what happened, and why this club and why these people — but we will rarely hear from the people themselves.

Which brings me to my point.

I can write many articles about what I think it means that some terrible person walked into a gay nightclub, and murdered 49 people. I can make inferences about this killer, or the people in the club. What I can’t do, and what should be done more in media, is to speak from the perspective of those who are a part of the community most directly affected. In this situation, I am neither Latino nor gay.

Events like this are complicated by these intersections of race, religion and the current political climate. Issues of self-esteem, hatred and the ease by which people turn to violence further complicate it.

When I watch the news, or read the paper, I am seeing the perspective of mainly white journalists, some of whom are also gay, but I’m struck by the lack of voices from the community most affected.

Ultimately my comment this week is not about Orlando, but about giving voice to truly diverse populations. I feel blessed that I have a place to share mine as a black woman, but I’d love to see more. I challenge the local media, including LEO Weekly, to find those voices, and amplify them. Find the diversity to highlight our community. Find a Latino voice, an Asian voice and a refugee voice: Bring the true nature of our community into our pages. With both print and online publications abundant in Louisville, there is no reason that more voices of our community cannot be shared.

It isn’t that these aren’t available. They are everywhere. The young woman from the University of Louisville, Natasha Mundkur, who spoke at Muhammad Ali’s funeral has a story to tell. Give her space to tell it. The many refugee ministries in town have scores of families with amazing stories to share. Gather them, and give them a place to speak.