A professional concern shared by my colleagues in software development and libraries is the difficult problem of naming. Naming things, naming concepts, naming people (or better yet, using the names they tell us to use).
Names have power; names can be misused.
In light of what happened in Orlando on 12 June, the very least we can do is to choose what names we use carefully. What did happen? That morning, a man chose to kill 49 people and injure 53 others at a gay bar called the Pulse. A gay bar that was holding a Latin Night. Most of those killed were Latinx; queer people of color, killed in a spot that for many felt like home. The dead have names.
Names are not magic spells, however. There is no one word we can utter that will undo what happened at the Pulse nor immediately construct a perfect bulwark against the tide of hate. The software and library professions may be able to help reduce hate in the long run… but I offer no platitudes today.
Sometimes what is called for is blood, or cold hard cash. If you are attending YAPC:NA or ALA Annual and want to help via some means identified by those conferences, here are options:
- The Perl Conference will be accepting cash donations to forward to the OneOrlando Fund. YAPC::NA will also be holding a silent auction for the benefit of that fund.
- The American Library Association is engaging in several relief and memorial activities, including a blood drive.
I will close with this: many of our LGBT colleagues will feel pain from the shooting at a level more visceral than those of us who are not LGBT — or Latinx — or people of color. Don’t be silent about the atrocity, but first, listen to them; listen to the folks in Orlando who know what specifically will help the most.