April 2014: A Missouri man with a long resume of anti-Semitism opened fire outside two Jewish centers, killing a 14-year-old boy, his grandfather, and a 53-year-old woman.
June 2015: Nine people were massacred during Bible study in an historic black church in South Carolina.
August 2015: The remains of 20-year-old Elisha Walker, a transgender woman of color, were discovered in a North Carolina field after she went missing.
June 12, 2016: A 29-year-old kills at least 49, wounded 53 in a hateful terrorist attack at Pulse nightclub on Latin night in Orlando, FL.
In one weekend in Orlando, FL, gunshots and assassination plots took the lives of at least 49 innocent people and injured 53 others. President Barack Obama has addressed the nation and demanded better gun control policies and greater appreciation for our rich diversity in the midst of mass shootings 14 times. Acts of racial, religious, and cultural terrorism nationwide cannot be tolerated. Those called to duty and that sit around the decision-making tables must experience an awakening and understand that intent does not equal impact. Unfortunately, safety is a mere illusion if hatred is present.
There is a greater sense of urgency to make sure that the LGBTQ, Islamic, Latino, and all communities are supported through this tragedy. We must pay tribute to the beautiful lives that are transitioning in life and in death. The battlefield for justice needs soldiers and we must unite in complete solidarity to fight the battle against hate. Hate will not win!
Hate kills. Each year, there are an estimated 200,000 hate crimes reported – and the number of bias-related incidents has remained consistent over the years. The only way to reverse this trend is to increase resources and initiatives dedicated to combatting hate. The tragedy in Orlando presents a most compelling case for why people worldwide must be more active in building awareness and engage in diversity education. It’s much more difficult to hate when you take the time to learn about someone different, explore your commonality, and above all respect your differences. The threat of terrorism is real and cannot be ignored. The prevalence of hate is just as real.
Without a moment’s hesitation the floodgates opened with “sound bites of bigotry.” Orlando is my home and, as the President & CEO of the American Conference on Diversity (ACOD), I strongly believe that respect and dignity for humanity will always prevail. It is with this belief that we remain dedicated to building more inclusive and just schools, workplaces, and communities through awareness, education, and advocacy. Our organization’s primary goal is to reach as many people as possible to interrupt bias attitudes and behaviors as early and as often as possible.
We encourage people of goodwill to not sit on the sidelines and watch things happen or even ponder over what just happened. We have a shared responsibility in making sure that we engage in courageous conversations and take bold actions to value and respect differences. Do not buy into the rhetoric of Islamophobia or homophobia.
Step up, fight hate, and join the ACOD on Sunday, June 26, at Liberty State Park in Jersey City at our Diversity Stride walk to demonstrate your dedication to ending hate. You can register online here: http://acod-diversitystride.kintera.org.