Working Toward Unity
(Editor’s note: This was submitted as an open letter to members of the Oakdale community.)
The past few days have given me a chance to process the events that occurred on Wednesday, June 3 at the Black Lives Matter protest.
I attended the protest in complete and total support for a peaceful rally designed to help raise awareness to the social injustices against people of color in our country.
I do not support or condone the actions of others who were demonstrating hate and racism. Like many of you in our great community, it left me devastatingly upset, disappointed, and aware that there is a definite need for improvement of acceptance for all humankind. I pledge to be part of that movement and urge all of us to be a community of diversity and unification. We need to come together and help increase awareness, educate others, including ourselves by initiating important dialogues, by being mindful and respectful of one another without hate or judgement, and to challenge those that preach hatred.
I know the terrible actions of a few do not define the larger majority and am proud of the community members who supported and demonstrated a peaceful protest. The key messages and dialogue that were shared was meaningful and let me convey – We Heard You! We will continue to Listen! We will continue to Learn! We will continue to be Better!
It is our job as citizens of Oakdale to do better and make all visitors feel safe and welcomed in our great town. THAT is THE Oakdale I know and love!
It’s time to move forward with the desire to work together, respect others and create solutions for our community, our families, and our country.
Finally, I want to thank the Oakdale police department, the sheriff’s department and all other law enforcement agencies for helping to keep the peace and ensuring everyone’s safety is top priority! My love goes out to you all!
Councilmember Cherilyn Bairos
Hope For The Future
I have lived in Oakdale for almost my entire life, and Wednesday, June 3 at the Black Lives Matter protest I felt more pride for my town than I have at any other point in memory. I stood in solidarity with my community, in a town I had decided a long time ago did not want me and did not want to have anyone like me living in it. To say that there is no hate in Oakdale is far-fetched; it lives deep at the core of this community, and anyone saying this town is clean from prejudice and racism was proven wrong when people echoing that very sentiment showed up to counter-protest, faces red and fists clenched.
June 3 proved that this town is growing, and the young people showing up for it gave me hope that Oakdale has the ability to become a place open for everyone.
It’s disheartening to hear so much of the discourse in the aftermath of the protest revolve around issues of ‘looting’ and ‘rioting’, praise for the police, and petty violent squabbles that happen hours after the event ends and we all go home. Did we forget why this march was happening in the first place? The young people of Oakdale had something to say, and we are failing them by muting their message and replacing it with one of rejection and insensitivity.
Where are the images of people hugging one another, of our moments of silence, taking a knee in honor of lives needlessly lost, and the speeches about progress and inevitable evolution by citizens from all variety of races, ages, beliefs, and backgrounds? There was so much love that day, why is that not what we choose to be proud of in this moment?
Are we so afraid of the young voices in our community that we’d rather board up our windows instead of welcoming them in? Why not offer a hand and begin to build a bridge of trust that will help pass our town from one generation to the next? Who are we keeping this town safe for if the ones who will inherit it are met with rage, distrust, and skepticism? So often growing up in Oakdale I felt like everywhere I turned I was met with more reasons to believe this town was not a welcome place for me. Right now, we need to be setting a new example, not maintaining an outdated status quo.
That morning, Oakdale erupted with a vibrancy and celebration of life I haven’t seen in the 20+ years I’ve lived here. This is our future. I for one couldn’t have more faith in it.