Buffalo Lake - Buffalo, Minnesota

Friday April 16th, 2021 11:36PM

WARNING: Controversial topics touched on below. You may not agree with my opinion, you may not like my opinion. I respect that but frankly, I don't give a f***. 

You can turn off the TV, put down your cell phone or refuse to pick up the newspaper but no matter how much you block it out, you cannot deny there's a sh*t storm going on around us. As most of you know I grew up in the small town of Rockford, Minnesota. A predominately white, christian community with little to no diversity. However... this community is the village that instilled the morals I still take pride in today. I didn't learn these things from my family, I didn't learn them from my friends, I was taught these things by watching my community leaders, teachers, coaches and mentors as they interacted with the people around them. Because if you're like me, you learn a lot more by observing than you'd ever learn from reading a book or listening to some motivational speaker. 

After graduation I entered the "real world" and that's where I got my first glimpse at the hate and the destruction that has been taking place long before my time. See after I graduated, I had to leave Rockford, the employment opportunities in this town are less than impressive. So I found a position working as an Administrative Assistant about 30 miles from home and quickly started making friends at my new place of employment. I had made Caucasian friends, African American friends, Cambodian friends, Vietnamese friends, Indigenous friends and MANY Hispanic friends. I was immediately welcomed by each and everyone of them. They respected me as a co-worker, cared for me as a friend and loved me like family. We would eat together, celebrate together and band together when things got tough. But, one thing I noticed..... They never intermingled. This was a sad but familiar concept to me. See, in school and still to this day none of my friends intermingled, I was always dealing with them one on one. So for example if I was hanging with my hillbilly friends, I had better not even think about inviting my jock friends or the wannabe thugs (yes, we had them, every town does). They all showed me love and I loved each and every one of them but for some reason they couldn't find it in them to love each other. I never understood, I just accepted it for what it was and continued living. As an adult, that was harder to do.

The first dose of harsh reality was encouraging interaction between my Cambodian and Vietnamese friends. Apparently that was very frowned upon by both groups of people. Was I too sheltered to understand? Did I skip out on one too many history classes to get it? Where was I going wrong? I simply wanted to enjoy the company of all of my friends at once. It never happened. This was only one of many instances where differences prevented people from coming together and the more I witnessed the more confused and discouraged I became. As time went on and I became more aware of what lie outside of Rockford, I started to look back. Rockford isn't perfect, it never has been. Though I didn't directly witness any of my friends dealing with discrimination or hateful acts, I knew it was happening and I did nothing. For that I am ashamed. I did witness conversations that took place behind their back and I took a stand, but what difference did that make? Those narrow minded fools just started watching their mouths around me (I had a temper and apparently one they didn't want to set off). But what happened when I wasn't there? They still felt the same, they still acted the same and some of my friends were still in their sights. Now here I was, an "adult" facing these same issues but in a much more blatant and appalling way. I watched my Hispanic friends be passed up on promotions that they so rightfully deserved simply because the other employees of the department didn't think they could work with them. I watched as one of my African American friends was labeled intimidating because someone wasn't happy with their facial expression at a customer site. There was complete segregation in the company but there was one thing that seemed to flow between all departments... ME. I freely wandered and interacted with everyone in the building and not one person seemed to care. It was during my time with that employer that I was labeled "a rainbow" (yes me, the female Johnny Cash, a frickin rainbow). I was literally the only redneck bumpkin in the place, I didn't even speak the same language as most but I still loved them and supported them with everything I had in me and they gladly did the same.              

Am I privileged? Absolutely! I grew up in a community where I was allowed to be exactly who I wanted to be and was able to express myself in any way I saw fit. I grew into a passionate, tattooed adult who was accepted and treated fairly by most everyone I've met. Have I been judged? Of course I have been, I'm a freeze baby who is often seen in long sleeves but when July comes and those sleeves come off, you should see the skin crawl on those ole' conservative guys and gals who had already welcomed me into their lives. SURPRISE, tattooed AF and by choice. My interaction with Law Enforcement was limited but strictly with the Wright County Sheriffs Department who treated me with nothing but respect. I made horrible choices but then had assistance from the adults around me (including the sheriffs deputies) when it came time to pick up the pieces. I drove around in busted up vehicles with Biggie and Dr. Dre blaring through my speakers (and I made sure the whole damn town heard it). I still live in this community and I still take comfort in the freedom that comes with that. But my eyes are wide open, my heart is heavy and my head is spinning because I don't see a resolution in sight. 

We have members of neighboring communities fighting over flags. Yes, you know damn well what I'm talking about. Some adults are offended by a rainbow flying in the air and then you've got a whole other group of "adults" upset about a big blue blob with the name of a man they don't support flying above their town. (Rockford you even try getting all riled up on this type of BS, better believe it wont go over well) There is not an emoji to portray my facial expression right now but if you know me, you can imagine. That's how you're going to use your energy? That's the battle you feel is worth fighting? GTFOH. There is hate spreading through the halls of our schools, there are children watching their grown a$$ parents bicker over petty sh*t while they are internally trying to cope with and make sense of what they are witnessing at school! So lets get this straight, at school they witness hate speeches and mistreatment of their classmates while the district leaders sit aside and do nothing, outside of school they watch the "adults" spew hate back and forth over politics and disposable pieces of fabric. And all while dealing with covid and the unrest displayed on every single media outlet. Here's where I'll lose most of you....... 

I don't care who you voted for and I 100% guarantee (no matter who you are) we do not see eye to eye when it comes to politics. No matter who sits in that seat or any of the others below them, they have no grasp on reality and what it is like to walk in our shoes. So why in the hell would you allow their views and their stance to form your opinion of the world around you and your fellow man? Why are you wasting your time arguing over flags and signs and who voted for who when your children are waking up each and every day to fight battles we should have dealt with years ago? 

If you pay any attention to social media (I do my best not to lately) you probably have become aware of an organized walk out among high school students throughout Minnesota planned for next week. The main purpose of this walk out to my understanding, is to take a stand for racial injustice and police brutality. I support taking a stand and always will. But, when these local students start getting hyped up, I hope they do it for the right reasons. I hope they direct their energy and their efforts toward the things that actually are impacting their lives. Racism? Yes, it's happening, there is proof all over facebook, snapchat, instagram and that proof is flagged removed and quickly forgotten about by the time the next incident arises. The districts according to parents in the community are not addressing the issue or taking any action. (Again Rockford, I have faith in you but pull some sh*t and you better believe I'll be coming back for some good hometown education) Police brutality? I can't speak on the Buffalo Police Department, the Howard Lake Police Department or any other man or woman in blue. But I can and I will speak about the men and women in brown who I have interacted with. Though cliché it is true, there are bad apples in every bunch. But, I put my trust in the trunk of that apple tree to stand tall and strong no matter how rotten the fruit may be. I have 100% confidence in the leadership within Wright County past and present to stand for what is right and deal with the toxic bullsh*t that pollutes not only their department but our communities. If you are a student in a Wright County District, focus your energy on the changes you can make. The halls of your school have been flooded with hate, your classmates are being ridiculed and harassed on a regular basis. You want to take a stand for that? I'm with you and I guarantee those men and women in brown would proudly stand with you too. But when you take a stand and you raise your voices, raise your consciousness too. Realize there can be change made in your homes, in your schools and in your hearts and then worry about saving the rest of the world. 

I broke a cycle and you sure as hell can too. I will not label my family and friends as racists or bigots but some of them are very uninformed. They fear what they don't understand. They stick with people who look like them, act like them and think like them. I can't relate to that and if I tried, I'd live a very lonely life. They were raised to keep their heads down and their voices quiet. I'm from f*ckin Rockford, try to shut me up. I am a mutt, I am a rainbow and I somehow found a way to respectfully interact with people from all walks of life. I know others who have done the same, so I know for a fact that it's possible. If we continue to allow differences segregate our communities, our schools and our workplaces we'll continue to be in the same sh*tty situation another 50 years down the road. I don't know the answers, I'm pretty sure you don't either and I know damn well the "leaders" of this great country don't have a f*ckin clue. I'll be honest I was hoping this was a generational thing that would eventually "die off". The problem is, that hate, those beliefs and those close minded attitudes are being passed down to the next generation. 

Support your children when they take a stand, when they have the courage to speak on things we were too cowardly to address. Embrace the difference in your neighbors, your co-workers and the strangers you pass on the street. Don't look to your political leaders for guidance, look within your heart and make the choices you can live with and those that leave a legacy you'd be proud to pass on. 

Hurt people, hurt people and I for one have seen enough. 

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