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Un clima vivible after El Paso

El Paso vigil

Melody Stout, Hannah Payan, Aaliyah Alba, Sherie Gramlich and Laura Barrios comfort each other on Saturday evening during a vigil for victims of the shooting in El Paso. (Photo from Axios.)

Un clima vivible after El Paso

By Karina Ramirez, Diversity Coordinator for Latino Communities for Citizens’ Climate Lobby

It has been days since the tragedy that ended the lives of 22 innocent people in El Paso, Texas, and I’m still trying to understand my feelings about the tragedy and those around me, and how to ask for support. 

I, like many of the members of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, believe in our goal to have a “clima vivible,” or a “livable world” for all. And often, we might feel like it is impossible. How can I concentrate on climate solutions (or at all?) when I just learned someone drove 10 hours to kill people who were going about their lives? Someone drove with the full intention to kill someone like me. 

Lamentablemente, unfortunately, we’ve lived through many other shootings before and had the same fruitless discussions over and over again—but El Paso feels different for us.  It marked the point where the threats, hurtful comments and “microaggressions”—such as “You came here legally, right?” or “ Go back to where you came from!”—became real dangers. For many of us, the U.S. has been the only country we’ve known, and it felt like a betrayal to have the ingredients of hate appear in our salsa of the blended cultures we have created into a home—living two cultures and speaking two languages.  

For me, as a parent, I have to consider how I talk to my community and family members. I have to ensure that they understand the risks and threats that have so blatantly proclaimed that they wish to do our groups harm. This is not new for Latinos, but our life now—after El Paso—will more so resemble that of African Americans. Living in fear. 

The Latino community is hurting and angry that we’re being targeted. And some are afraid to go outside and speak Spanish in public; some others are depressed because we can’t see an end to this persecution. Rep. Veronica Escobar said this incident was “fueled by hate, and it’s fueled by racism and bigotry and division.” I have to agree with her. 

In spite of this, I still believe in a better world for everyone, as CCL has taught me. I believe we can create un clima vivible—but this livable world must promise a chance of life and equity for ALL people and communities. No hate, no fear—EVERYONE is welcome here!

The road ahead will be steep and difficult—but you can support your fellow Latino CCLers (and members of your community) by demonstrating your compassion and by understanding that everyone grieves differently—I, for example, require hugs; others want to be listened to because often, we feel like no one cares what we go through. So, email, text, or call your fellow CCLers. Offer an ear, your support, your love, and if needed, your voice, too, because white silence is a form of violence. These are the core elements to cohesively work toward a truly livable and safe world for all.

Karina Ramirez is the Diversity Coordinator for Latino Communities for Citizens’ Climate Lobby and is a former journalist. She lives in West Palm Beach, Florida.