June 13, 2016

"When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way, and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The news of the shooting this weekend at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando is devastating. The Community at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) extends its deepest and most heartfelt sympathy and grief for the victims, their families, their chosen families, and their friends.

CIIS condemns any act of violence that is directed at people based on personal sexual orientation or personal identity. This horrific violence took place in a nightclub, during Ramadan, on a Latin-themed night, and specifically targeted members of the LGBTQ community celebrating Pride Month. Pulse, like many gay bars, is not only a place for members of the LGBTQ community to party and celebrate, but also a sanctuary for people to gather together to feel safe and enjoy inclusive community.

We cannot let the hatred that led to this event be the legacy of the lives that were stolen. Instead, let this latest mass shooting galvanize us and remind us that diversity and inclusivity are fundamental to our humanity. We must remember that that the heinous act of one tormented individual neither implicates nor defines a community, so we call on everyone to resist the urge to pit one marginalized group against another.

It is important to remember that this wasn't just a mass shooting, but a mass shooting that targeted queer and trans people of color, mostly Latino. Many of those now grieving fit not one identity, but overlapping identities, including those who are LGBTQ Muslims. As we straddle the fault lines of this tragedy, let us resist the forces of division and hatred, and let us stand against homophobia and transphobia, as well as Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry. It is important to remember that no community is a monolith, and that our intersecting identities are not at odds with one another, as some may want us to believe. These identities can be carried, celebrated, and embraced within the same person. These intersections can be sources of great love and support.

In the face of tragedy, it is natural to feel speechless and helpless. Yet, as a university community committed to diversity, inclusion, and inter-cultural communication, we must stand up and honor those whose lives have been lost. Let us renew our commitment to upholding and uplifting the dignity of every human life in all our words and actions. CIIS stands with those working for the progress and promise of all human beings, who greatly outnumber those working to tear humanity down. CIIS stands with those who embrace one another, not only when compelled by tragedy but also when working to transform society. CIIS stands with Orlando by educating our students to transform institutions and society, so that the world is driven by hopes and dreams and not by hatred and fear.

Organizations in the Orlando area like the Central Florida Red Cross and Equality Florida are on the ground helping assist first responders and aid in the recovery. Visit their websites, follow them on social media, and even consider donating if you can to support their important work. The city of Orlando has also established a hotline to check on missing family members and loved ones here: 407-246-4357.

So that they are not erased...

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34

Stanley Almodovar III, 23

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22

Luis S. Vielma, 22

K.J. Morris, 37

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50

Amanda Alvear, 25

Martin Benitez Torres, 33

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31

Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26

Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19

Cory James Connell, 21

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37

Luis Daniel Conde, 39

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24

Christopher "Drew" Leinonen, 32

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28

Frank Hernandez, 27

Paul Terrell Henry, 41

Akyra Monet Murray, 18

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24

Antonio Davon Brown, 29


Stay Connected to CIIS