Heartbroken in the heartland

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.

About tranquilamama

Juggling parenthood, housework and working outside the home in the corporate world with my wonderful husband. Mom to 2 beautiful girls. PPD and PPA survivor. The title of my blog is after a phrase that was repeated to me in Spain during my semester abroad in college. It roughly translates to relax and calm down. Trying to tame my inner perfectionist and just be a good enough mom.
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6 Responses to Heartbroken in the heartland

  1. Beautiful post, Jenny. I can’t believe this happened here, but at the same time I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Hate and ignorance are everywhere. It’s sad that these things still exist in the world.

    • Thank you Kristin. I naively thought that hate and ignorance did not exist. I started reading this book NurtureShock and it’s eye opening. It talks about race relations and it is giving me tools to talk about this with my oldest.

  2. Very touching. Thank you for sharing. I completely share your desire to teach my kids tolerance and non-hate. It’s hard in a world filled with hate, though. It needs to be modeled at home all the time.

    • Thank you Missy. I just had a conversation the other night with my oldest who will be five in two months about tolerance. I am trying to make this conversation more of a priority in our house particularly in the wake of the shooting at the Sikh temple here.

  3. mammacockatoo says:

    I’ve been trying to come back to this one and never quite know what to say. My kids go to a Catholic school with kids of various backgrounds, but we live in an area with a broader mix of cultures and religions. The kids play sports with kids of all sorts of backgrounds. There is a large Islamic population in our area, and the Sikh temple is only a suburb away. Everybody generally just seems to coexist reasonably, at least in public. I can’t even imagine something on that scale happening here.

    A few months ago there was what appeared to be an execution-style shooting at a nearby shopping centre. For this area, that was unheard of. It just doesn’t happen. Yes, you hear about robberies, violence, various things, but something like that sends a shockwave through the whole community. I still feel nervous going anywhere near there. The assumption was that it was Asian gang-related (our area is also a large melting-pot of Asian cultures) but I don’t think anybody really knows.

    You’re right. We can’t be naïve and assume everybody will just get along. But we can do our best to teach our own children and hope enough people will do the same.

    • Margaret, thank you so much for coming back to this post. Our small town is not as diverse as I would like it, but we are in the suburbs of an extremely diverse city. Unfortunately our metro area is still rife with the racism that I used to pretend did not exist. The tragedy at the Sikh temple really made me open my eyes and be more self aware of the messages that I was sending my girls.

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