I turned on the news yesterday, and I was horrified to watch the scenes unfolding across my screen. I live in the northern suburbs of the Milwaukee area, a mere thirty minutes from the shooting at the Sikh temple. I live in a small town that seems impervious to atrocities like this. I can no longer view my town, my metro area or my state like this anymore. I need to remove my head from the sand. I cannot be an ostrich any longer.
Hate, ignorance and prejudice are everywhere. As a Caucasian woman, I do not claim to know what it is like to experience racism. I have only experienced sexism. I do know what it is like to feel like the “other”. I spent six months overseas in Spain in college, and I realized how woefully ignorant I was of current events in both my country and worldwide. I had to learn more about myself and my country. I apologized a lot for our American brashness and arrogance. Today I am apologizing for the ignorance of my fellow Wisconsinites. Please do not read any of the comments on the media sites. They reflect the views of a small minority.
Sixteen years later, I work for a global organization. I thrive on this diversity. I spend a half hour first thing Monday morning talking to a colleague halfway around the world. I am constantly challenged by communicating with my global colleagues. We are working every day to overcome not only language barriers but cultural barriers as well. I try to get to know each colleague as an individual as well as learn a bit about their particular culture. It is a clumsy dance at times as we try to navigate these differences and come to a mutual understanding.
I need to take a stand and teach my girls about diversity and inclusiveness. I want them to be able to recognize differences and celebrate them. The world is so big yet so small. The beauty of technology is that it allows us to be more connected than ever, yet it can also drive a wedge between us. I live in Wisconsin, and I am proud to be from this area. I am outraged by this tragedy. My heart goes out to the Sikh community and the community of Oak Creek. You are in my thoughts and prayers. May God be with us in this time of hatred. Show us how to have a rational discussion about race relations in this country. Now is the time to start talking.