The recent unfortunate events regarding the Orlando 'Pulse' nightclub shooting has me thinking a lot about the very intricate complexities that can be found in various aspects of our cultures. While I often talk about perspectives that involve my own cultural variables (millennial, Black, woman, heterosexual, middle class, able-bodied, American, etc.), I am always intrigued by situations and conversations for which I am an outsider. This event is one in which I am an outsider.
Many communities have been impacted, both directly and indirectly, by this heartbreaking situation. Particularly, LGBTQ+ communities, Latinx communities (in addition to other communities of color), and Muslim communities. From an outsider’s perspective, I found myself amazed at how these identities and cultural groups have seemed to collide in this one very tragic incident.
There are so many aspects to consider…
These are only a few of the aspects one must consider when thinking about the complexities of this event; aspects that require you to step outside of your own worldview to consider the perspective of another. A different perspective.
In American society, -isms are constantly present, and we tend to hear them more during the aftermath of events such as these. –isms, such as homophobia and/or heterosexism, islamophobia, racism, cissexism, etc., are often anger inducing, and full of hate and rage. These -isms can also be scary, particularly to individuals who find themselves to be targets of such hate, anger, and gross misunderstanding. I have noticed the tendency for many to attempt to place blame on one or more of the communities impacted by this tragedy. I have noticed the desire to have these communities fight amongst one another, in the attempt to reconcile what has happened. I have even noticed many who are hesitant to accept the fact that all communities involved in this event are victims and are hurting tremendously.
So what can we do?
If you’re an outsider like me, consider being an ally.
Social Justice Ally: A person of one social identity group who stands up in support of members of another group; typically a member of a dominant group standing beside member(s) of a group being discriminated against or treated unjustly.
Oppressed groups desperately need allies.
Allies are invaluable in the fight to dismantle dominance, privilege, supremacy, and reducing the amount of oppression that these less powerful groups routinely experience.
Allies are willing to educate themselves about different identities and experiences based on cultural variations.
Allies are able to challenge their own discomfort surrounding differences in culture.
Allies understand the need to explore their biases and privileges.
Allies actively learn and practice the skill of being an ally.
Allies are committed to action that will result in interpersonal, societal, institutional, and structural change.
Will you be an ally?
Learn more about being an ally here, here, and here.
Read more about how to cope with social injustice here, here, and here.
Dr. Amber Thornton
Clinical psychologist with a passion for family, community, culture, and diversity.