Commentary Strange Fruit

Americans seemed stunned by the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Commenters on TV and online blamed easy access to guns. Some blamed lack of mental health care. Or radical Islam. Or homophobia. The culprit usually varied based on the ideology of the opinion holder, and arguments popped up over language use: Was it a hate crime? Is he a terrorist (and if so, why wasn’t Dylan Roof)?

We’re a show hosted by LGBTQ people of color. We saw the shooting as an intentional targeting of LGBTQ people of color. Omar Mateen had done some research on Pulse, and would have certainly known it was Latino night. So how does that shape the way we think about the shooting?

Eric Stanley is an assistant professor in the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of California, Riverside. In his essay, “Near Life, Queer Death,” he asserts that anti-LGBTQ violence is not an aberration, but rather the natural result of an white-supremacist, hetero-supremacist society.

Stanley connects large-scale acts of violence, like the Pulse shooting, to high murder rates of transgender women of color. “Often times it gets explained as being the work of one discrete bad person or the ‘bad apple’ syndrome,” Stanley says. “Anti-trans, anti-queer violence, which is always racialized, which is always gendered, is one of the foundational forms of violence that makes up the United States.”

We also talk about the hits and misses of the BET Awards, including their Prince tributes, and Jesse Williams’ earth-shattering acceptance speech!

Listen to the audio in the player above.

Laura is the producer of Strange Fruit, a weekly talk show focusing on race and gender, and oversees WFPL's Curious Louisville project.