Time to become one again: "Don't Haffi Dread to be Rasta.” Those are the worlds of famous family band, Morgan Heritage. To a larger extent of the song, it’s not one’s physical appearance, but the affairs of the heart.
What happened in Orlando that left 49 people dead and more than 50 injured during the massive attack on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) Club on June 12, 2016, has made those few words more profound today.
These attacks, including others such as September 11, 2001, over 3,000 died; Paris 2015, 130 dead; Charleston, North Carolina, June 17, 2015, nine families dead during a prayer meeting, and the recent killing of British Labour Party legislator, Jo Cox, on June 16, 2016. have become too normal, while communities are being divided into sub-groups, race, class, and economic status while quietly spinning on an unexplainable axis.
These barbaric actions are not just an American problem, but global. Although a few world leaders have sent their support for the victims, a few still support the anti-gay agenda that continues to divide communities despite a few tweets to give an impression that they are part of the equality movements.
At a time when people are more connected, communities are still further apart than before. His god, our god, their god, over there, those up the hill, down the road, dress certain way, and even socio-economic status, that has created them, those, others, and the isolation and salience has become the norm.
Indeed, this call for a new community gathering is to show that differences should not be a platform for more division, but to create better opportunities, and help others to reach their full potential collectively; including recognizing the need to intervene or interact to make a difference.
A strong community is public safety, tolerance, and economic prosperity. It can simply be an outlet for some troubled individuals looking for comfort, and who may even have difficulties trying fit in and could cut the appetite for joining a gang, or becoming radicalized.
Our humanity and safety: Recently US Vice President Joe Biden called for a change to the rape culture during a United States Women Summit. It was reported that it seemed like an overwhelming task for one man to address over 5,000 women.
I say so what?
I am not a gay man, but that should not stop one from using a platform, and other forums to highlight the importance of tolerance, not only in the LBGT community, fighting against domestic violence, exploitation, child abuse and other socio-economic ills that are inflicting pain especially among the less fortunate among us.
An attack the LBGT community is not new.
Along these beautiful shores, many have been killed or outcast for simply being part of the LGBTQ community. It might not have been 49 in one night, but one a day adds up. Many are losing their lives along these beautiful shores daily.
There are laws in some regions that prohibit LGBT people from marrying, and could result in prison sentence, stoning or other forms of death.
In this community, reports have shown that, since 2010, youth between 18 to 30 years old were 2.41 times likely to experience violence. And today, the numbers could be higher.
When these incidents occur there are unanswered questions after the leaders, cameras are gone, only to be replaced by blame games.
Should law enforcement have arrived earlier?
What is the correct political message?
How soon for new gun policies
How did this person come off a terrorist watch list?
What was the security level at the club?
Is it a mental health, terrorism or religious ideology?
Or could he have been gay, as some psychological studies have shown many of these perpetrators struggle with their own sexuality.
The Internal Assessment: Law enforcement cannot solve these problems alone. Often, the community knows the people, before law enforcement, but fails to speak up. From the parents, other family members to the teachers, and friends, they have to speak up when they see strange behaviour being displayed, radical ideas spreading hate, or even a mentally disturbed person before it is too late.
In addition, some of these churches that should have been an extended community have also become isolated. Few even praised the Orlando atrocity as a noble act by god's prophets for the sins of this community from their own ideology:
Nevertheless, one does not have to be a member of the LGBT community to call this a terrorist act.
Equally important, those whose lives were lost came from several cultural and ethnic backgrounds, simply out having a good time.
Sure, as a society, some progress has been made on race relations. But hate has been a DNA code many would like to solve. According to a recent NY Times report, by Haeyoun Park and Iaryna Mykhyalyshyn, the LGBT community today is more likely to be targeted than any other group. Once it was Jews and blacks who were more likely.
Where does it stop?
Who will be next?
Looking Back: Many of these “location gay”, who have limited financial capital, especially in poor countries, remain in a struggle.
I have written about domestic violence and homophobia, and targeting of the powerless, and the poor. Few tweets, likes on Facebook, Instagram while being and isolated alone cannot build a community.
No one expects the more fortunate LGBT community to be the answer and protector for all. However, there is still stratification despite one umbrella, and more needs to be done because, if this is a civil rights movement, it should not exclude the poor.
Civil rights are not for the privileged, but for everyone who are victims in that protected group.
Sure, this was an act in the US, and it is an America issue. So, why it is showing up in the Caribbean news?
Time to become more aware: No one can tell when someone will use violence to send a message.
Few have mentioned, managing the devil you know is difficult, but the devil you don’t know is more dangerous:
Understanding the potential indicator from your own infrastructure, or suspicious people can be critical, as suggested by leading law enforcement agencies.
The community has to regroup, trust law enforcement to better protect, and cut any false alarm.
The community has to begin to maintain constant awareness, demand policies from leaders to protect them.
It is not much different from protecting your own property; societies have to become more vigilant and begin to speak up when they suspect something or a person who harbours radical thoughts against people, struggling to fit in or animosity against certain groups or even government and the basic rule of law.
The community can only be stronger if these fights can continue beyond the cameras.
Diversity always wins: There are many victims that could use a community gathering, from poor medical treatment, better drinking water, sexual exploitation, trafficking, forced marriages, and even your local law enforcement could use a lead to solve a crime.
Not all events have to affect one personally to make a difference. Furthermore, demanding an answer for these sinless killings or a drug overdose should not be only because a family member becomes a victim.
Do not think these crimes cannot hit your community.
These atrocities are quietly becoming a matter of national security, and an economic liability, especially for these service economies.
Finally, this crime should be a paradigm shift for tolerance. Such as the civil rights movements, women rights and other social changes, some events will cause society to pause, regardless of what side you are on, and this one might just be the start of something new.
Whatever higher power you support, it is believed that all are created equal.
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