BY ALEXIS PAMPILLON | Today more than ever, we have a responsibility to talk deeply about the reasons at the root of why situations like #PulseOrlando happened. All day that Sunday, I was at a conference where the majority of people in attendance were Latinxs, and I didn’t totally understand what was happening. I didn’t know how to handle the news, but at some point I started to understand that this attack was not just what the media was saying or implying as the “biggest terrorist attack.” The reality is that this was a targeted, explicit attack on “Latino night” organized at a gay club — an intentional space for people of color LGBTQI-identified folks.
We must look at this with an intersectional lens. As migrant people of color who are LGBTQI and gender-nonconforming, we are vulnerable to a lot of systems that seek to divide us and oppress us.
The perpetrator, whose name doesn’t deserve to be mentioned, acted from a place of anger. He was clearly deeply troubled and had internalized hatred. In a world where the patriarchy manifests in hyper masculinity and our media follows an agenda to vilify specific races and religions, our society may choose to place blame in order to simplify and justify these acts. I choose to not do this, but look at this with a bigger lens to understand the layers and complexities.
A lot of the victims and survivors were from Puerto Rico and of Latin American decent, who are mainly migrating to the US due to the lack of economic opportunities in their land and oppression from colonization. Most of these people were working class, low-income, and scraping by to survive, only to meet homophobia with a gun.
I’m part of Make the Road NY, a community organization for Latinxs, people of color, and immigrants. As a community, we refuse to accept the narrative from the media that this person did this because of religion and we refuse to further condemn the Muslim community when they are also facing the backlash from the narrative that the media is controlling.
Alexis Pampillon works with Make the Road New York (maketheroad.org), which aims to build the power of Latinx and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education, and survival services.