Category: Current Events

The Importance of Community

From a talk by Georgia candidate for Governor Stacey Abrams on the importance of speaking up.

A charming mix of TED talks, “lightning talk” presentations, business networking, and political rally, Lesbians Who Tech (LWT) is unlike other technology conferences I have had the privilege to attend.

The amount of joy makes it more like a party, even though it contains all the ingredients of a conference. The sense of community and camaraderie is abundant sometimes to a sickening (as in sugar) level, not to mention the marketing overdose, but it is necessary to provide (and fund) a safe space where the invisibles are acknowledged and heard. It’s almost like we are routinely ignored so often in such a matter-of-fact manner, that we can’t stop celebrating when given the chance to do so.

Even at the risk of tokenism and political correctness fatigue, it is generally favorable to encourage, support, and participate in the celebration of diversity, not just because it is decent but also because it is likely profitable.

Regardless of the ultimate motive of the decision to embrace diversity, at least the train is going somewhere: candidates are welcomed into the recruiting process, entrepreneurs get pitch opportunities, and businesses gains access to a non-typical talent pool while enhancing company image as an ally of minorities.

LWT is a kind of psychological compensation and a renewed call to action for a spirited subset of a sexual minority that is historically ostracized and only recently gained global traction as well as national legal rights in America, keeping in mind that these fragile rights are increasingly in flux under the current administration. Given this climate, it is unsafe to stay silent. Absolute objectivity is not always desirable, even for journalists.

Kate Kendall of National Center for Lesbian Rights quoted Elie Wiesel in her presentation on the importance of resistance:

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

U.S. Mass Shooting Fatalities Since 2014

shootings

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

– John Donne, No Man Is An Island

This chart depicts the number of fatalities in mass shootings in the U.S. from 2014 to 2016. You can see clearly that the toll from the latest shooting in Orlando, Florida far outnumbers even the sum of a number of past shootings.

Frank Bruni sums it up pretty well. This isn’t an attack on a minority subset of a population, but an attack on the “bedrock” of our society: the very idea of democracy, acceptance, and diversity.

How many of these incidents are still going to happen before something is done? Sadly, maybe quite a few. “And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

You can’t really say “I’m glad this didn’t/doesn’t happen where I live.” Just because it didn’t, doesn’t mean it couldn’t.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
– Martin Niemöller

This is a work in progress, and the code is on GitHub. The data source is Gun Violence Archive.

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