Thursday, June 30, 2016

Japanese American Service Committee Recommits To Being A Welcoming Space For LGBTQ People

As Pride Month comes to an end, we'd like to spotlight this wonderful inclusive statement from the Japanese American Service Committee, our neighbors with offices at 4427 North Clark. It reads:

"Like many Americans throughout the United States, JASC has been shocked and taken aback by the wanton violence and loss of life that occurred in the mass shooting which took place at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016.

To the families of the 49 people who were killed and to the 53 people who were injured in the shooting, we would like to express our utmost sorrow and sympathy.

And to the LGBTQ community at large, across the nation and here in Chicago, we would like to say that we are united with you in your pain, and stand committed to working together with the LGBTQ community to recover and build from this tragedy.

The Japanese American community, having endured forced relocation and incarceration which we experienced during World War II, we have a particularly sharp awareness of what it can be like to be discriminated against and to experience hate crimes, solely on the basis of our race and ethnicity. We know very well how it feels to have our safest spaces, including our homes, businesses, churches, temples, and places of social gathering, be taken away from us. 

And we also know how hard it can be to return to these same places, to rebuild a sense of community, and to make our “homes” safe again. This was in fact a guiding principle of JASC’s founders 70 years ago, as more than 20,000 Japanese Americans came to Chicago seeking refuge and an opportunity to rebuild their lives.

For the members of the Latino LGBTQ community in Orlando, we know this recovery process is very much a work in progress. And we know the repercussions of this incident have been felt across the nation and have helped to contribute to an atmosphere of anxiety and uncertainty for LGBTQ members here in Chicago.

Even further, we are also concerned that antipathy and hatred directed at the South Asian, Muslim, and Arab communities may also rise in the wake of this tragedy, and we stand firm in our solidarity with members of these communities, who have also strongly condemned this act of violence.

In order to address these many issues moving forward, JASC remains committed to being a safe space for ​all but especially people of color and ​the ​LGBTQ community, regardless of religion or creed. With this statement, we seek to recommit ourselves to the goal of making our organization and all activities and services associated with it as open, safe, and accepting of the LGBTQ community as possible. 

The mass shootings in Orlando have shown that hatred and violence are much closer than we think. We remain committed to reaching out to members of the larger community to show that as friends, allies, and neighbors, love and acceptance are as equally close at hand."

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