By Shailee Koranne.
Nowadays, it seems as though whenever there is a shooting or bombing that generates media attention – which is unfortunately very often – it takes both liberal and conservative news channels and political figures less and less time to blame the violence on ‘radical Islamism.’ When I turned on the news on Sunday afternoon after hearing about the shooting at the Pulse nightclub early that morning in Orlando, FL, it was almost instantaneous; within minutes of reporting the shooter’s name, CNN also revealed that he was raised Muslim, supported ISIS, and was of Afghani heritage.
While being so concerned about the shooter’s race and religion, most major media outlets ignored that most of the victims of the shooting were queer people of colour, specifically Latinx PoC. The deaths of a marginalized community are being used to vilify another marginalized community.
So, if you want to talk about how race relations were involved in the Orlando shooting, don’t speculate about the shooter’s Afghani heritage (by the way, he was born and raised in America); instead, talk about the fact that queer and trans people of colour face disproportionate amounts of violence as compared to white queer and trans people.
Instead of painting Muslims in broad strokes as inherently homophobic people, talk about how queer Muslims feel when you propagate incendiary lies about their communities, faith, and cultures.
Instead of digging up the Orlando shooter’s father’s YouTube channel to search for so-called ‘proof’ that Islam is violent, talk about how a white guy was caught en route to the LA Pride Parade yesterday with multiple guns and explosive materials and we didn’t hear about him or his ‘heritage’ past that. Talk about how hypermasculinity and easy access to firearms play into the staggering amount of shooting-related deaths every year. Talk about why we are led to believe that men of colour are criminals, when data shows that most of the people who commit mass murders are white men.
I wonder if anyone that blames violence on Islam actually knows any Muslim people, because Islam is not the cause behind Omar Mateen’s actions. Don’t worsen the impact of the horrifying deaths in Orlando by buying into the East/West dividing rhetoric that actually helps radical terrorists in carrying out their motives.
The media has prioritized Islamophobia over paying respect to those whose lives were lost in a horrible tragedy. 49 people aged 18-50 died in Orlando this Sunday, all with varying professions, stories, and backgrounds. These are their names:
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
The names of the victims of the Orlando shooting as well as all photos used in this article are from the city of Orlando’s website.
To read another Lucky Penny Mag piece about Islamophobia, read Arman Adel’s essay “What Is My Islam?” here.