I live in a rambling little town that is geologically the center of California. It is an ag community, grapevines, and fruit and nut trees are lined up in rows that when seen from a distance are a site to behold. At any given time of the year something is in bloom. The town was historically founded when a large flume was built to run lumber, the industry of the time, down from the mountains of the Sierra Forest to the valley floor of Madera, whose name is Spanish for lumber. Most all of its inhabitants were immigrants of some kind. It has a rich and varied history. People of all ethnicity's settled and called this little town their home. Some families today can trace their lineage to those early settlers. Today Madera is made up of people of many ethnicity's, Italian, German, Russian, Mexican,Chinese, Japanese, African American, Native American, Pakistani, Middle Eastern.
It surprises me that with all of the different races that live here, there is still a racial unharmony that rears its ugly head. Just down the street from where I live a man Donny Eugene Mower, a member of the American National Brotherhood, perpetrated hate crimes against several different walks of life. He targeted an Islamic Mosque, throwing a brick through a window and leaving signs. One of which said, "No temple for the god of terrorism at ground zero", he also targeted a United Methodist Church leaving a sign that read "Homosexual Pastors is this a Christ honoring church, or are you awakening the spirit of Sodom and Gomorrah?" This hate fueled terrorist, because that is what he is by definition, also through a Molotov cocktail at our local planned parenthood because he was, "against abortion". How did this man who worked as a bus driver for children slip through the cracks... How was he even able to hide his allegiance to the White Brotherhood? I wonder how hard it was to deal with people of a different race or belief on a daily basis. He must have been a good fucking actor. Cause he lived right in the thick of a varied neighborhood of Hispanics, Caucasians, Blacks and Middle Eastern Islamic doctors offices. He lived less than a mile from one of the local high schools, and middle schools, and an elementary school.
So with his arrest by the FBI he confessed to his crimes and our little town was shocked that this could happen here. Here it was Spring, 2011 and almonds were not the only thing in full bloom, so was hate. I was not shocked because hate and racism have run rampant in this town for a long time. Racial lines are still defined and though somewhat blurred still visible if you are in certain parts of the county. You cannot be Black or Hispanic in certain towns, at least not without saying you are a tourist... I see it in my hometown newspaper when people call in to the Red Line, a section of paper devoted once a week to peoples outrage at various issues, most of them revolve around "those people" shh... they are talking about the Mexicans from Mexico... you know those dirty, lazy, living on welfare, living 10 deep in a garage, good enough to pick my food but not good enough to have to dinner as a guest Mexicans.. yeah them. Then there are those people who run every gas station in town. The towelhead wearing, slurpee selling, don't touch the magazine without buying it, smelling of cumin, well actually its garam masala, you know those folks,trying to take over the world terrorist plotting, tightasses. Sucks to be a shade or two darker than the average white folks around here.. Oh they smile at the blacks, too intimidated to tell a black person anything to their faces, but yup they talk shit behind their backs too....no one is immune. Their is a whole section of town called nigger park and the public pool was called the nigger dip back in the day. No, hate is still alive and kicking in this town... we just don't talk about it unless its anonymously in the Red Line.
So what do I tell my kids? I tell them that no matter where you go or what you achieve there will always be someone to say you are less than. Its what you think of yourselves that matter and people who want to hate you because of your skin color, your sex, your sexual preference, religious beliefs or last name, don't deserve the privilege of knowing you! Its really all about how you respond, as the local Islamic community and Methodist Church did, with grace and dignity when they were attacked. Hate is based in ignorance or fear or the unknown. Those are things that in time can be changed, just hope I get to witness that day...