Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Jersey City Vigil for Orlando Victims

Tonight, 6/14/2016, I went to Jersey City, the place I called home for several years, for a vigil remembering the victims of the violent act at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

As I walked up to Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza, I immediately remembered how diverse Jersey City is. When I worked at Hudson County Community College years ago, I became familiar with the fact that Jersey City is one of the most, if not the most, diverse city in the United States. Hundreds of countries, languages, and ethnicities are represented in J.C. This is why the vigil in Chilltown, as JC is lovingly known, was so special. Partners of every gender representation and color held hands, men in turbans handed out free water to people who came for the event, young Latinx and African American folks handed out free candles. It was an impressive sight.

One of the first speakers of the evening was a Muslim man from Jersey City, representing a local organization. He said a prayer that promoted unity and understanding, and that urged non-violence. He prayed for the families of the victims and emphasized that if one falls, we all fall. Then, the names of the dead were voiced, but the speakers also included statements from the family and friends of the victims, details that allowed us to understand their unique personalities, facts that allowed us to visualize their last moments, like the fact that a mother died shielding her son on that night, just to name one example. Everyone listened intently, and many wept.

The main message of the evening was love, and a need for gun control, especially in terms of automatic weapons. The crowd cheered the possibility of a safer world, but they especially cheered love and genuine acceptance.

It was beautiful to see so many people come together in love. And what happened among those present was in stark contrast to the rhetoric that has been promoted on television and in the media, in general. I believe that coming together - breathing air together, catching our breath, in sync, just like the victims tried to do that night to the rhythm of music - I think the coming together is the truth. I don't believe anything that the media is promoting now. When we come together and look into each other's faces, we know we love each other. We know we do not want what people who are out of sync fool themselves into wanting or believing.

The message in the media right now is fascist. When I watched Bill O'Reilly on The Late Show, on 6/13/2016, spew hatred and say words like "annihilation" in regards to certain populations of people, I knew he was out of sync, or wanted to get people to be out of sync, for whatever reasons he might have. Shame on Colbert for allowing him to speak such hatred. The FBI has said over and over that this crime had nothing to do with any extreme groups. The facts show that this man was out of sync with his own body, with his own gender identity and sexuality. That is a result of the hateful fascist ideology that is promoted regarding the LGBTQ population, an ideology so many folks have worked hard to fight against. Donald Trump has tried to use this tragedy, just as O'Reilly has, to promote his own fascist agenda, too. He is also out of sync. They promote violence, war, walls, guns. Violence, war, walls, and guns are fascist. These men also promote corporate, neoliberal* domination, and that is fascist, too. These unwelcoming men are ugly and they have no real connection to the population of the world. They need cameras and microphones to be heard. We are forced to listen to them because they are loud, and because equally ugly people give them the power to be heard. Shut that noise out. It isn't the truth.

Tonight, in Jersey City, the people in the crowd needed no microphones or cameras to hear each other. The love was felt between everyone because we were all tuned to the same frequency. We all know that warm, loving acceptance of people is the only way. That love is an art form, much like dancing to music in a room full of people who all know the pattern of the baseline, every beat, moving in sync, smiling at each other without saying a word, understanding that the same blood is pumping through everyone's veins, knowing that everyone's heart is squeezing out the same rhythm, the rhythm of life.

Thank you, Jersey City, for creating a safe place for all of us to remember, recognize, and rejuvenate.

*Neoliberalism is the process of transferring public funds and resources to the private sector.