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GUEST COLUMN: Story on meeting needs clarification

After the article in this paper last week, it seems apparent that there needs to be an attempt to clarify a couple of points regarding the “Who’s My Neighbor” meeting at the Arboretum.

I believe a couple of quotes were offered here in this paper without adequate context. One of the quotes “Where are the racists?” was truly offered as tongue-in-cheek. Obviously, anyone harboring overt fear or disdain for someone of another ethnic origin would not attend a meeting where the initiative was to celebrate diversity.

Toward the end of this community conversation we fully understood that: A. There was little notice of this meeting, B. Many people had previous plans, and C. Notice was not spread widely (or timely). Therefore, discussion moved toward (to the effect of) “this meeting has been a good start of discussion as to how we can become a better community through inter-ethnic understanding. So now, where should we go from here? Well, let’s try to have more dialogue about these issues. And let’s try to get the word out better, and be sure to invite those in and of the clergy (or their congregation) and community leaders in government and law enforcement who have the availability of time and energy, along with young people” (my own comment regarding a lot of gray hair at this first gathering).

As to those who feel there is no racism in our region, most of the readers have no prejudice, or that the answer is we should all carry guns to protect ourselves, Really?

I don’t believe we are an assembly of do-gooders and elitists. I want to believe we are just concerned fellow citizens who ask the questions of: What if the bartender that night had realized the importance of alerting the police of the overheard conversation? What if we had more opportunity to learn about and understand the cultural complexities in our region? What if we could work harder at building a community where anyone — visitor or resident — could truly feel the kind of neighborly love that Jesus so badly wanted us to hold in our hearts?

CHIP BORKENHAGEN is a Baxter resident and owner of Riverplace Communication Arts.