More than Twin Tragedies

This morning marks the 5th year since the infamous 11 September 2001.  Less than two weeks ago, we marked the 1st year since the Hurricanes that ravaged the Gulf Coast of the United States.  These twin tragedies will live in our hearts and mines for generations to come because of the before-then-unfathomable loss of life, before-then-unfathomable governmental reactions, the unrelenting support, sympathy, and empathy of the citizenry, and the uncanny resiliency of the individuals who experienced these events first hand.

While reverencing and respecting these happenings, I ask the following questions: is this all that I need to remember?  Aren’t there other tragic things that have occurred in this world that should have altered my thinking and world-view for the rest of my life? My answer here is an emphatic YES.

Minorities and the once Native Majority in this hemisphere have dealt with devastation, terror, and genocide since its invasion.  During these times, people have shown the same resiliency as my fellow american citizens showed 5 years ago today.  Why do we not take the time to look back upon these people and the events of their lives?  Why do they not get the phrase “Day of Infamy” attached to their tragedies?  Wasn’t the day the Caribbean Islands were invaded a “Day of Infamy,” marking the beginning of a genocide over 600 years and still continuing to this day?  Wasn’t the day the areas surrounding Plymouth Rock were invaded a “Day of Infamy,” marking the beginning of a genocide that has lasted nearly 400 years and still continuing to this day?  Wasn’t every single instance of a Black person in this country being lynched a “Day of Infamy,” a chilling symbol of the hatred that has burned in closet of this country that still rears its ugly head from time-to-time today?

Let’s go international.  Isn’t everyday genocide continues in Darfur another “Day of Infamy,” a current demonstration of this world’s inability to act when the victims of atrocities are brown or Black?  Wasn’t it a “Day of Infamy” when hopeless individuals took out their frustration and aggression on school children in Russia?  Wasn’t it a “Day of Infamy,” in 2005 when two French boys were murdered by the police, inciting the riots in that country.

Obviously, there are countless other examples, making it impossible to list them here.  My call is for us to do two four things today:

1. Pay homage & respect to the victims of the 9/11 tragedy, their families, and the people who risked & gave their lives on that day and the years that have followed.  Remember where you were.  Remember what you were doing.  Remember what you did to help out.  Share these things here with us.

2. Pay homage & respect to the victims of Hurricanes Katrina & Rita, their families, and the people who risked & gave their lives during those days in 2004 and the time since then.  Remember where you were.  Remember what you were doing.  Remember what you did to help out.  Share these things here with us.

3. Do some homework.  Investigate other things that have happened in this world during your lifetime?  After studying, you may find more things than these twin tragedies that will alter your perspective.  Share these things here with us.

4. Pay attention to this world we live in.  Look at more than what’s in front of your own two eyes.  There are more people in this world, more placed in this world, and more things in this world that we are connected to, that effect us, and that we need to have in mind when approaching this world every time we awake from our slumbers.  We owe it to ourselves and to the victims of all tragedies to remember what happened to them, and act in ways that prevent tragedy in the future.

One Love. One II.


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

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