Naive. Idealistic. Young.
These are a few of the names I was called this week….by complete strangers. Like I told them, I’ve been called a lot worse things in my life;-)
How did this name calling come to be? Well, I read a newspaper article one of my friends shared on Facebook about an event that happened at one of my local high schools.
What happened was this: A group of Somali parents and students protested outside of the school during school hours – they were protesting what they feel is ongoing unfair treatment by school officials because of their nationality. They were also protesting the fact that a young Somali girl’s picture was put on Snapchat and it indicated that she was part of ISIS. That was the last straw for the Somali students who explained that they have been the target of racial bullying. You can read the full article here: http://www.sctimes.com/story/news/local/2015/03/18/students-protest-conflict-tech/24967679/
I finished the article and came to the comment section. And then, I nearly lost my breakfast.
An overwhelming majority of the comments boiled down to this sentiment:
What in the world? Did I just get transported back to the 1950’s?
I couldn’t sit by silently and let these comments go unchecked. So, I responded with this:
“Anyone that comments about how “they should go back to their own country” should really take a good hard look at why you are saying that. Do you even know what you’re suggesting?
Would you want to return to a country where you, your daughter, or your mother could be raped as a weapon of war? Let’s step out of our American dream, please, and admit that none of us can truly get it and most of us have never tried to get it.
What we can do is love our neighbors and try our best to understand them!”
Here are a few of the ways that my St. Cloud neighbors responded to me…
“They made their bed, now they can sleep in it. Oh wait, that’s right, they would rather come here and create the same mess they created in Somalia.”
“Somalia is an absolute craphole, yet many Somalis appear to want to replicate the culture that created that craphole here.
Assimilate or go back and join Al Shabaab. It’s really very simple… I don’t want to live among culture destroyers.”
“We are a nation founded on Christian-Judeo principles. Learn to live it and love it or GTFO.”
“Ours is a nation built on Western principles. The Somalians come from a culture as different from ours as night is to day. They have a completely different set of values associated with their ideology. It is a culture I want no part of. Why is it that wrong? Am I not allowed to choose what I do and do not like? Who I do and do not wish to associate with?”
“Persons in this country have and deserve to be picky as to who their neighbor may be; we have all earned the right, we have earned it in blood.”
Wow. Just wow. So, for a few hours, I engaged in what was actually pretty friendly debate with these folks and, in the end, was glad that I did so.
Did I magically eradicate racism from St. Cloud with my “We Are The World” idealism? No.
Did my youthful passion soften the hearts of any of my fellow debaters? I don’t know.
Did my naive “love trumps all” stance cause any hate speech to be taken back? Nope.
Is it worthwhile to confront racism in calm and composed manner? YES. A thousand times yes.