Count to 50...
Now add the families affected.
Add to that number the wounded -- physically, and emotionally -- who were in or around the Pulse Club Saturday night.
Multiply that by each city holding Pride parades and celebrations, which turned to vigils and moments of shaken silence -- and yet we still don't come close to understanding the impact of this event on our communities. So what can we do with a horror we cannot fully comprehend?
Acknowledge that the shooting took place at a gay bar filled with predominantly queer people of color.
Think about those queer people who had gone out to celebrate pride in themselves and their community and the gains that had been made over the course of the past year; and were killed in yet another senseless act of violence in America.
Never lose sight of the fact that this was without question a hate crime. This egregious act targeted a particular minority population, comprised of groups of individuals who have been targeted before. Black and Brown people whose history in America has been marked by marginalization and demonization. Hatred met terror Saturday night in Orlando; and the lives of countless individuals will be changed forever as a result.
Was it also an "Act of Domestic Terrorism." Of course it was! Imagine yourself hiding in a bathroom frantically texting your loved ones, begging them to get help, telling them you were afraid you would die, and sending a final message of love. Imagine being the loved one receiving those messages. Yes, without question that is terror.
Take the time to acknowledge that the shooter was, in fact, an American citizen, a licensed gun owner who on Saturday night used a weapon that was meant for soldiers to use in war zones.
Then process the fact that some lawmakers are more willing to pass legislation about where people can or cannot go to the bathroom but, when it comes to the ability to access an assault rifle, do nothing but offer up prayers and empty platitudes for the victims.
Condemn the violence perpetrated by this broken person without descending into anti-Muslim ideology. News reports have said that those who knew the shooter report that he was homophobic and hardly practiced his faith.
Understand that this is the worst mass shooting in recent US history (technically, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history was at Wounded Knee with an estimated three hundred Lakota murdered 126 years ago) but note that it is also the 134th (with four or more victims) in this country this year.
Recognize that this sort of violence is not new, that it is not a product of Islam or radicalism, but of us. It is in our blood, our history - the centuries of oppression and violence and exploitation that have gone unhealed.
A friend posed the following question: "When it is not safe to go to school, church, work, or out to clubs...what's left?"
I had no answer, except: Count to 50. We have work to do.
Yes, grieve, but do not look away.