Letter: Since shootings in my hometown, a new reality

Posted 8/7/19

To the editor:

For over a year now my heart has ached thinking about the people, especially the children, being held in detention camps in El Paso, my hometown. I’ve prayed, cried, contacted …

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Letter: Since shootings in my hometown, a new reality

Posted

To the editor:

For over a year now my heart has ached thinking about the people, especially the children, being held in detention camps in El Paso, my hometown. I’ve prayed, cried, contacted elected officials, donated to Annunciation House, yet I have felt increasingly paralyzed. My biggest fear has been that one day we’d learn that conditions were much worse than we’d been told, and I hadn’t done enough.

On Saturday, as family and friends kept us posted on the active shooter in El Paso, my paralysis turned to outrage. The unfolding horror at the familiar WalMart, where each Saturday morning an elderly relative does his weekly shopping, and Cielo Vista Mall next door that family and friends frequent, hit home. My brother, sister-in-law, nieces, nephews, a dear friend’s granddaughter, whose Girl Scout troop sets up shop at the WalMart entrance during cookie season, could have been among the victims. A white supremacist fueled by hateful rhetoric felt justified, emboldened, and obligated to murder innocent people solely because they were Hispanic.

I’ve experienced racism in varying forms, usually subtle, but in the last couple of years it has been increasingly overt. I’d read about profiling and recently experienced it first-hand. I refuse to let racist comments and behavior deter me, nor do I let them go unchallenged, but since Saturday I now have a new reality. It is very clear to me that in the country of my birth, I am no longer safe.

This letter is in no way an implication of the residents of Little Compton: Everyone I’ve met has been kind, welcoming, and inclusive. Rather, I write because not all communities are like Little Compton and many people suffer every day from intolerance. We can only do what we can, so I encourage my fellow residents to speak up when they encounter hateful and discriminatory behavior or speech online and in everyday life, as these little actions can have big consequences.

Emelda Valadez

Little Compton

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.