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The Buzz on the Streets

The 47th District: Issues, Insight & Interaction

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August 12th, 2012 at Sun, 12th, 2012 at 7:21 pm by lesliehamada

I particularly liked that quote when I saw it as it offered Hope and healing for the future, which is the title for this article. Growing up in a small town in Montana in my early years I did not have much exposure to diversity in race, creed, or culture. We had a few Native Americans and the talk of the town was the Hutterite Village outside of town where people were isolated from modern conveniences and the men, women, and children wore black clothing —hats, long skirts, and rarely came to town unless for some special occasion. They did not attend our schools. I can remember as a child growing up in the Methodist Faith, that those Baptists on the corner beyond our church were just so extreme. I also have many memories of how my grandfather who was looked as a leader in the town, judged and accepted all people on how they acted and performed. He was responsible for speaking up and getting a Native American a job with the City when others thought he was really thinking out of the box and exhibiting risky behavior. When the Editor of the paper asked for a quote why he had done what he did. He simply said: “he is a good worker and a good man, that is all that matters to me.” When my grandfather was terribly ill toward the end of his life, many in town rallied and came by the house to offer food or help. The leader of the Hutterites came by and said to me as an adult: “Gus always helped us if we needed it, and ask us into his home when many shunned us, if there is anything I can do to help please let me know.”

Usually I use my blog for local happenings or local issues but issues around the country can be felt locally. So this issue is going to be a little different. My husband and I attended a convention in Phoenix the first of June a few years ago and we rented a car and drove to his birthplace—Poston, Arizona. We had an air conditioned car and when we got out of the car it was about 115 degrees. After hearing my mother-in-law talk about being forced to leave her home in California with her husband and all her belongings except one small suitcase and being 5 months pregnant. I envisioned and felt this as I stepped out of the car. She, getting off a train in the middle of the desert and having to live in camps and being told to do so by her government. At that time there were no air conditioners. She had been born in the United States and gone to high school here and was just starting her life as a young woman with her first child. Why was this happening to her? How horrible to live out in the desert with many families in one tent and be pregnant. My husband was born in an internment camp, he later served in the United States Marine Corp as a Corporal. He has shared with me when his family returned home—the name calling, that they could only live in a certain part of town, and the horrible discrimination and bullying.  All the atrocities that you go through when a race is discriminated against because of stereotypes or lack of understanding. It took several years of the Japanese community keeping a low key image and working hard in school and in the work place for them to be elected to positions of prestige in the government.

Why can we not learn from these horrible mistakes and move forward as a country? The big issue in the political game today is the immigration issue. How would you like to be brought here as a young infant, raised here, go to schools here and live in neighbors here and be called undocumented? What does undocumented mean? You do not exist? What? You were an infant and had absolutely no choice in what happened or control over it and you are undocumented. Words….. how they hurt or help us. Words….how they fuel anger or calm storms.

Recently in a Gurudwara in Wisconsin, a man that had fueled anger acted upon that rage in a horrific act. We do not know his mental state but we can follow his history. He belonged to organizations that promoted racism in their songs and their rhetoric. Even some of those organizations have stepped up to say this was a horrible act. We are experiencing again in history discrimination because of the way men and women dress and act and practice their Faith. A man sees something foreign and he associates it with terrorism or whatever and he is fueled with anger and acts upon that anger. History repeating itself as with the Native American, Chinese, the African Americans, and the Japanese.

My prayer is that with this horrific act that just happened and the opening up of the Sikhs to the public of their ceremony this past Saturday in Renton to learn their true beliefs and following that we can grow to know this religion and its people and all people of various religions, creed, and color and not repeat anymore the past. Let’s start really learning from past history choices that were not good choices. Today, would I as an adult, really see the Baptist religion as extreme as some of the elders in my town did? Wow!!!! I don’t think so. The Native American that my hometown hired went on to be one of its beloved citizens and in Montana today hiring a Native American would never be labeled risky business. In the State of Washington we had the leader of this State at one time proudly announce his Chinese heritage. African Americans can point to so many examples of rising to the top before our current President was elected to office. Bullying and name calling and discrimination have no place in the schools or homes or businesses. Words hurt. Words destroy. Words can also heal, my grandfather spoke up when it was not popular to do so. Silence can also speak loudly. My prayer is: “It might be stormy now—-but it can’t rain forever.” Let’s make an effort to get to know our neighbors regardless of race, creed, religion or culture. Let’s not just go to an event for one night and think our job is done. Let’s reach out for better understanding and enlightenment. Let’s see those rainbows and sunshine’s. We can all make it happen. Correcting history takes the courage to do things differently. Let’s begin each day to celebrate the beautiful diversity in SKC and learn more about each other as individuals. Let’s pledge today to learn from our mistakes and do better.    Shalom.

Leslie is a wife, mother, & grandmother. She has worked in marketing, communications, & writing professionally. For the past 17 years she has resided in the Covington area and doing volunteer work in the King County Area. While her children attended University Place Schools she was actively involved in youth activities and PTA. She was in executive leadership in the organization as President in school PTA on all levels. In addition she held a District PTA leadership position. Currently her youngest child Lisa is a teacher and last year was recognized as NASPE 2009 High School Physical Education Teacher of the Nation. Her two sons are employed in Computer and engineer firms. She has two beautiful grandchildren. Leslie's pride & joy is Pee Wee Hamada her stay at home Cocker spaniel and her inspiration for her first Children's Book: "Pee Wee's Adventure In the Woods" which addresses boundaries for young children and safety issues through an exciting animal book. Leslie has been actively involved in her Community volunteering for over 40 years. She has mentored in high risk elementary schools since college. Presently she is Director for emergency services for her church Kent United Methodist. She is Chair of the Kent Ecumenical Network Board. It is her sixth year on Catholic Community Advocacy Board. She received an award last year from Governor Gregoire for work with felons. This past year she was recognized for work in social justice and poverty by the South King County Human Service Commission. Last year she received an award from the Southern Sudanese Organization in Seattle. In 2005 she received the SKC Award for the Spirit of Caring. In 2005 she traveled to San Francisco to work at the Soup Kitchen of Glide Memorial and help with immigrant Chinese pre-school students at Gum Moon Community. Her passion is working with kids and social justice issues. Presently she is working to start a Kids Boxing Program in the Kent East Hill area to give the kids a great after school program.

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