Guest Column: Who tells the story when you are silent?

Support Local Journalism


I love reading the opinion section of any paper, but especially the Express’. The topics are more interesting to me and the drama is more enjoyable. I also love writing for the opinion section, which is why I’m spending the 30 minutes between folding the baby’s laundry and sleeping to write instead of doing something important, like folding the rest of the laundry.  As opinion sections go ours is pretty typical, in that it skews white and male. It reminds me of my last visit to the capital building. The governers’ portraits showed a succession of one white, older male face after another. One face was a lot more tan than the others, but it was more of a Hollywood, body-builder kind of tan.  I thought to myself that the issue wasn’t that any one of these governers was a white man, but that every one of the governors was a white man. I bring this up now because of a statement in Charley’s last column that really stuck in my kraw. He wrote that at a recent city council meeting Bob Polkinghorn and Bill Lagattuta were practically yelling, and that it was so uncivil he thought he saw, “a tear forming in Councilwoman Loren’s eye.” While I can’t know what was going through Jesse Loren’s head in that moment, I do know how I would feel if I were the one female member of the City Council and somebody singled me out to say they thought they saw me crying during meeting. Did Harold Anderson sniffle emotively? Did Wade Cowan furtively check his shirt pocket, perhaps for a tissue? If either of those insinuations sounds a little offensive, that’s probably because Harold and Wade are grown adults with years of experience in public office, just like Jesse.  I’m actually a big fan of crying. I think we should all do it more often, and in public.  But unless Jesse is up there literally wailing and gnashing her teeth–I don’t want to hear her actions interpreted that way.  I don’t think that Charley meant to offend. I think he just didn’t write that sentence the way I read it. I’m both a different gender and generation from Charley, and we’re going to interpret some things differently.  One major similarity we have is that we’re both white. I’m so white that the first thing I thought when I read about the mask ordinance was how much money I’m saving on sunscreen this summer. I’m so white that when my college roommates complimented me on my impeccable English, it’s because they assumed I was Dutch. I’m so white I don’t understand what it feels like to be afraid of police encounters. Two of my former classmates, Jules Damay and Darian Marico Clark-Stinson, shared their experiences of being black in Winters at the recent BLM protest. They have described a school experience I had never seen. We need to make room for these kinds of stories.  The point isn’t to drown the old voices out, it’s to bring new voices in. I love that the opinion page in the Express is almost entirely community generated, but there is a drawback: Usually the people who write are the people who have time, energy and the sense that their opinion matters. Coincidentally, that demographic tends to lean in the direction of four out Winters’ five City Council members.  It can be hard to share your opinion in public, especially when you’re afraid people will dismiss you as being overly emotional, or too angry to matter.  One way to fix that is for more people to speak out. The point isn’t to discourage anyone from sharing their opinion. If you are an older white male reading this and saying that I’m making it sound like your opinion matters less because of your age, race or gender…I’m sorry, that must be hard.   Joking aside, that isn’t what I mean at all. No demographics is a monolith of opinions, and if you have thoughts to share, you should.  But we need to encourage more people to make their voices heard. If you feel like people don’t care about your ideas, interrogate that feeling. Who ends up telling our collective story if you stay silent?  So please, if you can, write a quick email to the Express. Get out of the Facebook echo chamber and tell your story to a wider audience. Let the laundry of your life wrinkle in the dryer of your spare time for another day and take a few minutes to share your unique perspective.]]>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Article

Capay Organics puts its best on the table for those in need

Next Article

A Quick Opinion: Are we just trying to put lipstick on a pig?

Related Posts