orlando hate

A Second Look

On June 12, 2016 a community that is often marginalized became very visible through an act of violence. I was deeply shocked and angry at the carnage of human life and moved beyond words at the act of compassion displayed by the residents of Orlando and the world. Love is the defense against hate and bias. Words of support and acts of kindness bring about a temporary relief to the sadness and grief that beset our country. But is that enough?

I have dedicated my life to fighting for human rights. I am proud of the campaigns I have helped organize against violence against women, LGBT rights, and youth empowerment. The campaigns have been community-driven and work towards shifting power to those most impacted by economic, health, and gender-based disparities. My work is deeply rooted in the personal experiences of bias and hate I have encountered.

I have also had the privilege of meeting people who are making an enormous difference by taking on the work that no one else dares to embrace. I remember being given a tour by outreach workers of homeless transgender women living in cardboard boxes under bridges in Los Angeles County; corn fields in Nebraska where young Latinos inject drugs; and a collection of garbage dumpsters where homeless gay youth seek out food thrown out by five-star restaurants in Minneapolis. Transgender women, undocumented drug addicts and homeless queer kids are the very people who have taught me the most about what really matters in life. Survival takes courage. Survival takes dignity. Survival is a matter of respecting all of human life.

Thousands of people are feeling compassion for the victims in Orlando but there are victims in our backyards that often go unnoticed. The survivors I have met are victims but they are existing with a sheer determination of survival.

I hope we can all take a small moment in our lives to look a little closer within our own neighborhoods, our workplaces, and perhaps our own homes. What small act of kindness could we demonstrate by paying attention and looking closer to what surrounds us in your immediate surroundings. If love is the defense against hate, a second look within our periphery might make that solution more plausible.

Carlos Velazquez

View posts by Carlos Velazquez
For more than two decades, Carlos has been working to improve public health, by designing and implementing successful national and local prevention programs in the United States and abroad. He managed the nation’s largest capacity-building program on HIV prevention for Latinos. He developed a national HIV social marketing campaign in Australia and produced a documentary that chronicled the impact of HIV/AIDS in the Latino community in the United States. Through a recent partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Walgreens, he implemented a $10 million vaccine voucher initiative, which also involved several Latin American consulates in the United States. Carlos was instrumental in helping to develop the first Cultural Risk Communications Model for the CDC.  He is the President of HMA Associates, a marketing and communications firm in Washington DC that specializes in multicultural communication interventions aimed at reducing health disparities and achieving health equity.  He serves on the Arlington County Human Rights Commission,  the Arlington County Commission for the Arts and is an active member of Toastmasters International.  You can also follow Carlos on twitter @jclatino. www.hmaassociates.com  
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