My Com­mu­nity, My Thoughts

The Oakdale Leader - - NEWS - Teresa Ham­mond

Ido 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 tham­mond@oak­dale­ or by calling 847-3021.

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