As we head into Pride weekend, we at MRG are reminded of the importance of creating and holding space to celebrate who we are, where we came from, and build a vision for a better, stronger, and safer tomorrow.
This week’s MRG staff meeting started a little differently than most. One of our leaders shared their personal struggle with the events that took place in Orlando, Florida this weekend. This vulnerability and openness created the space for members of our team to authentically share and work through the personal and political impacts of the horrible tragedy. Through this conversation we realized the value of gathering to authentically process the complexity of this tragedy, and the importance of acknowledging and embracing all of the interconnected forms of oppression involved. Finally, even in the most difficult of times, it’s critical for us as a racial and social justice foundation to lean in and listen.
With the almost daily mass shootings and the prevalence of hate and mistrust in our communities, many including myself have become numb. This numbness coupled with everyday busyness can distract us from how these tragedies affect individuals in our communities and our society as a whole. Today’s staff meeting reminded me to fight against this numbness by coming together with all of my different communities to have conversations about building a society and community where we all feel safe. As you and your organization process this tragedy, we encourage you to gather with your friends, family, community, and colleagues. By coming together we can each find the way to connect to our feelings, think about the real ramifications and loss felt by so many, and to support each other as we work through all of our different emotions. Many of our grantees are sponsoring community events over the next week as a way of coming together; see below for a listing and we hope to see you there.
As we discussed the events that took place, it became clear that this was not just another shooting, it was not simply an attack on the LGBTQ community, it was not simply an act of hate, it was a combination of each of these things. Each member of our team had a different personal reaction to the tragedy. “ We can’t lose sight that this was a targeted attack on the LGBTQ community and specifically the Latinx LGBTQ community.” “We need action on gun control.” “Could access to mental health resources have helped prevent the event?” “Are there going to be copycats.” “What about the islamophobia backlash?” “How can we elevate and defend the people of color narrative?” This is a truly complex issue that cannot be processed or solved with a simple solution but better tackled by embracing and leaning into the complexity.
Embracing complexity and working at the intersection of oppression is at the core of MRG’s work and mission. By supporting and working alongside a diverse set of grantees we are able to help build connections and elevate the interconnected nature of the social justice movement. In response to this tragedy, know that MRG is right here with you. We are challenging ourselves, our supporters, partners, and friends to get past the media rhetoric, embrace this complexity, gather to authentically talk about and upack this horrific event, and remember to be gentle with each other in the process. When posed with simple solutions, what questions can you ask to dig deeper? When pushed to blame and criticize a particular group, take the time to think of what element of the situation you might be missing. By taking these steps to more deeply understand all of the issues at play we believe that as a community we can build a just and joyful Oregon where people, cultures and ecosystems thrive.
As our partner Kelley Weigel shared at Justice within Reach, “Love is what justice looks like in action.”
Have a great Pride everyone!
MRG Foundation Team,
Please join our grantees and partners as they come together at the following events.
Queer Wellness Benefit for Orlando
An Interfaith Vigil
For LGBT Families in Orlando
Saturday morning, June 18, at 10:30 AM
Havurah Synagogue in Ashland
Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine Screening
One response to “Reimagining taking action in the wake of tragedy”
Thank you, Stephan, for those wise and thoughtful words at a very dark moment in time. I’m so proud of MRG staff and all the organizations that pursue love and social justice with MRG funding. That’s the work that will lead us to the light.
Kim Thomas, MRG Board member