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“Remember me with smiles and laughter, for that is how I will remember you all. If you can only remember me with tears, then don’t remember me at all.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Once again, America and the world react with shock and amazement to a deplorable and almost unthinkable act of terrorism and violence. What occurred at the Pulse nightclub was in fact an ISIS inspired act of terrorism on our shores. While some may argue which words to use in describing whom to attribute the violence responsible for the highest casualty terrorism on American shores since 9/11, I say “why” is not as important to me as “what.”

“What”…50 killed and 53 injured.

“What”…predominantly ethnic minority victims.

What…young people.

“What”…innocent young men and women just out looking to enjoy themselves on a Saturday evening in Orlando, Florida.

Oh and by the way, “what”…Pulse was a nightclub that catered primarily to gays and lesbians.

The reason this fact is just now being mentioned is because some are already treating that fact as a basis for not affording the same tragic significance to what happened in Orlando during this past weekend as to the terrorism that befell the participants and spectators during the Boston Marathon bombing, the school children of Sandy Hook Elementary School or the churchgoers of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Whether one counts themselves a supporter or opponent of the orientation and lifestyle of the “LGBT” (lesbian; gay; bisexual; and transgender) community, one thing is for sure; bullets fire and human beings die on an equal basis be they straight or gay!

I know the Black community is embroiled in a moral, ethical and political struggle over the so-called “tolerance” towards the LGBT community, but to that so-called dilemma I would say one thing to my people. The same historical intolerance and bigotry directed towards the Black community was wrong and is equally reprehensible when it is aimed at the LGBT community. The “sexual orientation” of the victims of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub does not make this tragedy any less horrific than for the previous victims of countless lynchings and other acts of domestic terror against generations of African-Americans via lynchings; castrations; rapes and other acts of deplorable and despicable violence against our ancestors.

When the media asked the victims’ friends and families what they thought of the loved one they lost in the Pulse nightclub shootings, without exception the response was the person who was lost was a person of laughter and happiness. I hope that each victim is remembered with “smiles and laughter” rather than with tears.

The only enduring beacon of hope arising from the all too common tragic events of unspeakable violence is that the perpetrator cannot rob the victims of their humanity and the fact that during their time among us they touched us in a manner that cannot be erased even by an unspeakable act of American born and bred terrorism.

Mark T. Harris, Esq.

Mark T. Harris is a tenured lecturer at the University of California, Merced and a licensed attorney. He is the President of Central Valley Leaders in Sacramento, California.

Professor Harris served in the Administration of the Honorable William Jefferson Clinton in Washington, D.C. as the Deputy Chief of Staff to the late U.S. Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown

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