On Sunday, June 12th in Orlando Florida a man committed the largest mass shooting in U.S history. It was also the largest attack on the LGBT community in history.
Author and columnist Owen Jones walked off the Sky News set after becoming infuriated with host Mark Longhurst’s lack of acknowledgment that this was undeniably an attack specifically upon the LGBT community. The hosts response being that it’s more a tragedy against human beings in general, comparing it the France terror attacks of November 2015. This response reminded me of the response to the 2013 social movement #BlackLivesMatter, which was #AllLivesMatter.
Now here’s the thing, all lives do matter and that attack in Orlando was a tragic attack upon human beings. But just because both of those things are true, does not mean they are a relevant criticism of the other facts that black lives matter and this was the largest attack on the LGBT community, both of which were much more relevant. If someone asks you what the weather is like in London and you’re standing next to a window in London, or you’re outside in London, you’re not going to start explaining the history of weather in London are you. Unless you’re Rain Man. What I mean by that somewhat convoluted analogy is just because a response exists that might be true, it doesn’t mean it’s the right one. All lives matter but all lives don’t have to experience racism. Yes those are human beings being killed, but not all human beings experience hatred for something out of their control.
The privileged dreamer in me wants to use phrases like all lives matter, but the realist in me stands by the #BlackLivesMatter movement because it needs everyone to stand by it. To stand against the injustice in the world, to destroy systemic racism, to remove the idea of racism from existence and possibility. The blind dreamer in me wants to say that it was an attack on human beings, but until prejudices no longer exist the realist in me will acknowledge the specific people involved because everyone needs to acknowledge them. To stigmatise the prejudices, to eradicate the discrimination in this world forever.
We don’t live in a dream world, we live in the most real world that we will ever know. Some people just haven’t woken up yet. Probably because the dream world is apparently devoid of racism and homophobia. It sounds like a blissfully ignorant place to live. But the real world is an unfair place that will only be changed when everyone opens their eyes to the issues and pain of others and we work together to change them. Then we can turn the dream world that some people live in, into the reality for everyone.
Thanks for reading and speak to you soon.