I do my best to stay away from politics both in this space, as well as in general when it comes to writing.
I’m a firm believer that as journalists we are each gifted with a certain skill set which is best served in different areas of print. Mine happens to be by way of human interest stories and a relatable column that speaks to our readers, every now and again.
My passion however runs deep by way of this community and the people who make it such a unique Central Valley gem. The saying “only in Oakdale” holds true for a number of reasons and I feel blessed (yes, blessed) to know firsthand and from personal account exactly what those words mean. I do more than work for the local paper; I live the local life as a community member as well as the mother of Oakdale Joint Unified students.
Perhaps this is why my blood began to boil upon receiving a text late last week regarding profiling of our town by an east bay publication.
We ourselves, as a publication had placed a photo and detailed caption on the front page of last week’s paper touching on this very topic via coverage of a Unity Rally. In other words, those who live here, including our mayor, have stepped forward to acknowledge that as a community we don’t stand for any of what was highlighted in this out of town report.
Personally, I don’t feel the need to expand on hate rallies, racism or anything close in nature. In short I will personally go on record as a community member who happens to write for the local paper and say, all are welcome in my home and in my life. Color of skin, ethnic background or religious belief do not factor in to who I call friend or share my life with. I’m all about diversity and the melting pot on which this country was founded.
I believe in the words “one nation under God.” I believe we are all God’s children and I despise the notion of a time, not too long ago, where segregation was an acceptable way of life.
Oh, yeah, I also believe in God and do believe it’s my constitutional right to state that publicly. I’m not encroaching my belief on anyone else. I’m quite simply stating what works for me in the way of living my life. Pretty simple really.
What upset me, however, by this piece I read was the representation of our town. The notion that one person’s residency and affiliation spoke for the remaining 22,000-plus that call this community home. Matter of fact, the quotes which were used in the piece were of people who grew up in neighboring communities.
While I’m not a political journalist, I do believe quotes attained from the town in which you are reporting seems a bit more credible, but what do I know.
My answer to that is simple. As a Bay Area girl, relocated to the 95361 by choice not circumstance, I’m proud to be a member of this town. As a family we are members of a diverse friend circle encompassing varying backgrounds and beliefs. We do however share a few things in common. We are loving, caring, open minded humans. We are not uneducated, angry or hateful toward those with ‘differences’ – whatever in the world that means.
So while I may not be the one our readers turn to when looking for the unturned stone in the way of criminal investigation or politics, for this piece I’ll stay true to what I am. A human, sharing my interest in this community as well as mankind as we continue to find our way through this crazy, twisted, mixed up world with the ever occasional “fake news” piece. Oh, and I don’t agree with that term either – but we’ll save that for another day.
God bless, love one another and remember: there is no such thing as superior; each and every one of us is flawed.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.