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raceAhead: June 13, 2016

June 13, 2016, 1:07 PM UTC

Early yesterday morning, a lone gunman identified as Omar Mateen killed 50 people and wounded at least as many more in an attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Mateen reportedly declared his allegiance to the Islamic State in a call to 911 before he opened fire.

It was “Upscale Latin Saturday,” a weekly Latin-themed night of what should have been salsa music and celebration. The stories that are still developing from the event describe a scene of nearly unimaginable horror. If you’re willing to overlook the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, then it is the deadliest mass shooting event in U.S. history.

But it is also the deadliest event targeting LGBT people in U.S. history. That it happened during Pride Month, a celebration which arose from police brutality and other violence against LGBT people, is a particularly wrenching detail.

In televised remarks to the nation, a depleted looking President Obama said, “This is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American – regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation – is an attack on all of us.”

And yet, it will not be a normal workday for millions of people who are still processing the event, and feeling anguish either as a member of a targeted group, a closeted one, or one who by virtue of their faith, operates under a cloud of very public suspicion. This makes it a difficult time for people who do inclusion work or lead diverse teams or organizations.

“When we’re not in crisis, in times of common peace, diversity is something we say that we celebrate,” says David Kyuman Kim, professor of religious studies and American studies at Connecticut College, and whose work focuses on race, religion, moral theory and public life. “But in times of crisis, we become aware that for some folks, danger is ever present in their lives, and what happened in Orlando is less exceptional than we would like to believe.”

Reverend Mariclea Chollet, who trains and educates institutional chaplains – corporate, hospice and military – says to expect that safety might be top of mind for many people, which may reveal ways in which they feel vulnerable at work. “Managers need to generate a forum in the workplace for conversations that address issues of safety and foster resilience,” she says. “And they need to be open to the many different understandings of what safety might entail, and be willing to navigate those differences in a way that are inclusive for all.”

But this is also a uniquely human opportunity to connect. Kim says as tempting as it is to want to look away from any crisis, the opposite is actually the way forward. “We have a responsibility to draw our attention to co-workers, to community members and ask a simple question – ‘how are you doing?’” he says. “And then listen, really listen, as if you don’t already know the answer.”

On Point

How terror unfolds in the digital age.
In the 21st century, even terror goes viral. David Morris explores how phones and social technology has become an integral part of how horrific events unfold, and also how we mourn: Moments after a gunman opened fire, the Pulse nightclub posted a dire warning to its Facebook page: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running”.

A diverse Tony Awards makes history.
As expected, “Hamilton” won the award for best musical at last night’s Tony Awards, but the events in Orlando were top of mind for all in attendance.  Said host James Corden, “Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality, and gender is equal, embraced, and loved. Hate will never win.”
LA Times

Chief Diversity Officers on the rise.
As diversity and inclusion work becomes more important to chief executives, the professionals who are shaping the work at the highest levels are in the spotlight. Black Enterprise highlights the work of a select few.
Black Enterprise

African style changes the prom gown.
One part cultural pride, one part Instagram glory, African styles are showing up in prom dresses around the country. The bold patterns and bright colors weren’t cool until recently. “The trend stems today from the larger culture of black women embracing themselves and their beauty,” reports Ruth La Ferla.
NY Times

Hillary Clinton's gradual evolution on race.
Hillary Clinton may have shown up at Wellesley a Republican “Goldwater girl,” but Charles Bethea suggests she didn’t leave that way.  Hillary Clinton’s first real encounters with black people, black issues and inequality was as a Wellesley undergraduate, and Bethea makes the case that it was transformative.  “What I respected about Hilllary was you could see a gradual evolution,” recalls one friend at the time.
The New Yorker

The Woke Leader

The origins of the gay pride movement.
It’s worth remembering that the gay civil rights movement is relatively young. PBS documents the Stonewall Riots, named for a popular gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the subject of repeated police harassment.  A raid in June 1969 triggered a violent protest that lasted six days and established a gay rights movement that is still sorely needed today.   

A new holiday for civil rights?
It’s an anniversary that barely gets a mention: On June 12, 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws that banned mixed-race marriages in 16 states. Ken Tanabe, a Japanese-Belgian man now living in New York, has been working for 12 years to commemorate what he believes is one of the most significant civil rights moments in history.
LA Times

Stop sounding like a jerk.
Meredith Clark offers an interesting filter for anyone who wants to avoid being “myopic” when they publish anything online: The Talese Test. Named for Gay Talese, who recently alienated audiences with an unfortunate exchange with a black female New York Times writer, it encourages anyone who writes about diverse topics to seek feedback from people with lived experiences and to employ empathy in writing.



When senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised, the show is proof that history remembers, through times when hate and fear seem stronger, we rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer. And love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside…
—Lin-Manuel Miranda