Random violence impacts us all and random violence against youth, in particular, tends to shatter our sense of security. A society that cannot protect its most precious resource, its children, is one that is not poised to thrive. Unfortunately, many people are only concerned when violence impacts their community or one similar to theirs. Thus, while many publicly mourn and express outrage, as they should, over mass shootings in suburban communities, many of those same people have turned a blind eye to violence in inner city, low-income communities for decades.
Unfortunately, the LGBT community is also guilty of this denial. This has served no one well, particularly since there is not always a fine line separating various communities. The tragic murder of Deoni Jones, a 23-year-old transgender woman, illustrates this point. Thankfully there has been an arrest in that case, but the community is still advocating to get the murder classified as a hate crime, as it seems the initial urge was to classify the murder as a “typical street crime” in a struggling community. Viewing inner city violence as something that does not impact us all is shortsighted and the negative impact of such thinking is often not apparent until it’s too late.
This sentiment of not caring about violence that does not impact one directly has allowed the violence to continue unchecked. This should bother LGBT individuals in particular because our community has been the target of violent hate crimes. When a member of the LGBT community is attacked, we rightfully want others to join in to condemn the attack, find the perpetrator and speak out against hate based on sexual orientation. Some of us identify as LGBT, as well as part of other communities that find themselves the target of senseless violence, such as low-income communities. Others of us may not necessarily reside in those neighborhoods, but other commonalities, such as a shared racial background and previous residence in these areas, make it impossible for us not to share the pain when violence scars the sense of security for these neighborhoods.
Since the beginning of this school year, six innocent students have been killed in Prince George’s County, a place where I am proud to have been raised and where my parents and hosts of other close relatives and friends still reside. We all have a moral responsibility to voice our concern and express support for efforts to stem the tide of violence.
The only way to eradicate violence in our society is for us all to unite in this common goal. The DC Alliance of Youth Advocates is a coalition of member organizations that collectively advocate for the various diverse youth populations throughout the city. Coalitions like this are a great resource for those who are working in the LGBT community, but who also want to be involved and active in the broader youth advocacy community in the District. I implore LGBT individuals to actively condemn all violence. Expressing sincere outrage about violence in every community is the only way to get those communities to be similarly outraged about violence in the LGBT community.
Lateefah Williams is the immediate past president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and the first African-American woman to serve in that position. You can read her blog dcprogressivepotpourri.com, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on twitter @lateefahwms.