My Turn: Learning from history’s sins
Maya Angelo, the African-American author and civil-rights activist once said, “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
I have read with great interest the articles and commentary surrounding the Truckee pastors who have united to seek an apology from the Town of Truckee for the injustices committed against the immigrant Chinese in our community’s history.
Surely I’m not the only person to make a connection, but a mere four days before the article “History’s Sins” was printed in the Sierra Sun, another article, about a more recent immigrant community was printed. The article discussed the reasons why the Latino day laborers are being relocated away from the center of town.
While I can understand the various reasons stated for the relocation of the day laborers, the issues presented regarding our Latino immigrant community has given me great pause. It is true that the Town of Truckee in its present form did not exist during the Chinese injustices, and it is true that none of us currently living in
Truckee were around during these painful times in our town’s history. However, I hope that we are all aware of the injustice that is present today within the city limits of the Town of Truckee. Children are attending our schools without a nutritious breakfast to keep them alert during the day, multiple families are living in single modular homes on West River Street because of inadequate affordable housing in our community, and parents have to make the choice between feeding their families and getting the medication necessary for the health of one of their children ” all part of an incomplete list of the injustices I have personally encountered since moving to Truckee 18 months ago.
I have not lived in any other community where the line between rich and poor is so stark. Because of this, it is not difficult to see the many places where “history’s sins” must be addressed ” today.
I applaud the social service agencies entrusted with the responsibility of caring for those in our community that need assistance, and I am thankful for the pastors that reminded us of Truckee’s painful adolescence and the mistakes made by its citizens in the past. I am inspired by our community leaders, teachers and citizens who work to make a difference in people’s lives every day.
But there is much more work to be done. Because of this, I hope the Town of Truckee will revisit its policy regarding public statements like the one requested by the Truckee pastors. I would like to know, as a citizen of Truckee, that my elected representatives would publicly take a stand against racism and injustice. If a statement of regret or apology is not only for the reason of “sins” past, let it be a statement regarding those issues of injustice that are present in our community today.
Perhaps a statement of apology and a statement from the council concerning its position toward our present immigrant community is necessary ” a statement that would call our town to see the immigrant community as neighbors and friends, rather than paint them as a nuisance to be dealt with. Maybe each of us should take a hard look at the thoughts that run through our heads when we encounter our immigrant neighbors who, like our own ancestors, came to the Unites States looking for “liberty and justice for all.”
Do the Town of Truckee and its citizens really believe this vision of American democracy is possible? I hope so.
May we not commit history’s sins ” and, if the present citizens of Truckee have the courage to take action, as Maya Angelo so wisely comments, history “need not be lived again.”