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Ariana Grande's One Love Benefit Concert Was an Act of Bravery

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By Mijal Tenenbaum

This past Sunday, Ariana Grande showed an immense amount of strength by putting together a benefit show, less than two weeks after 22 people were killed while leaving her concert. As I watched One Love Manchester from my apartment in New York, I couldn’t hold my tears back. The whole concert felt so important, and so impossibly personal.

Almost 23 years ago, when I was three months old, my father was killed at an anti-Jewish bombing three blocks away from our home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His name was Javier, and he was one of 85 people who lost their lives that day. As far as my memory goes, I have been a family member of a victim of terror. I’ve never known a world in which terror feels foreign.

Growing up, I had no idea how to deal with my own grief and my own feelings, but pop music was there for me through it all. There have been many times throughout my life when my love for stars like Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, and Ariana Grande herself have led people to judge me or make me feel inferior. People would tell me that “fangirling” over people you’ve never met and having their picture on your wall was not only childish, but also ridiculous and pointless. Truth is, artists and their respective online fandoms became my outlet. Singing along to my favorite songs and forming communities around the people who most inspired me got me through it all. I didn’t speak of my dad, because I couldn’t understand why I would feel his loss so strongly, even though I hadn’t met him. I was very conflicted within, but I was certain about the music and artists that I adored, and the connections I made because of it.

 

Feliz día

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For many years I was way too young to process what had happened to my dad and my family, and I'm sure so many kids in the audience of Ariana’s concert haven't begun to process what they witnessed two weeks ago. It’s difficult for a child to grasp that something that feels so private and personal to them can also be such a public experience. For Ariana to stand up and bring this group of people together, so soon after the attack, and give them something to be excited for and happy about is extremely important. For her to bring artists like Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and Niall Horan on stage, who so strongly represent teen fandoms worldwide, is an extremely meaningful gift. For her to provide her audience with an outlet and a way to cope so early on has the potential to make such a big difference as they grow up.

The Manchester One Love concert was very difficult to watch, but also incredibly healing. The people and the music that were there for me through so much stood up for a cause so painfully close to my heart: to be there for those who need it most right now. When the camera panned through the audience, I recognized myself in so many girls. They were dancing, singing, waving their arms up in the air. They were grieving, as well.

 

ZERO FUCKS ZERO CHILL

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Grief doesn’t always look like tears at a wake. It’s not always gloomy and it’s not always openly dark. Sometimes when life gets difficult, you dance through your grief and express it through love. You sing along through the words you know so well, you scream “I love you” to the band you’re obsessed with, you jump up and down to the beat. In my case, you might also make a sign that reads “Hilary Duff Rox My Sox” and hang a High School Musical poster from your first ever concert on your wall. That doesn’t make grief any less serious or valid.

I am so grateful to Ariana for jumping back on stage so soon after the attack. Too often we shy away from helping others in fear of saying the wrong thing and making things worse, but she braved through it all and put herself out there in the name of love. Ariana herself is a survivor of this attack, and in showing so much strength and resilience, she is actively supporting those little girls in her audience who will continue to go through their own grieving processes as they grow older. Ariana is leading the way, and we’re all following.


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