Letter to the editor: Hate has no home in Edmonds

Editor:
On Monday, Indigenous People’s Day, I’m reminded of a maxim I’ve frequently seen on the internet: “No one is illegal on stolen land.” Yet, just this past weekend, someone took one look at my skin color and asked me if my parents are illegal immigrants.

Ten years ago, if you had told me that anyone in Edmonds would have accused my family of being “illegal,” I would have laughed at you. I would have said that doesn’t happen in Edmonds, people are nice here. Yet it’s happening more and more these days: the white supremacist fliers, the “Build That Wall” cookies, the noose, and the threat spray painted on the store window of a minority business owner.

I am running for city council and I have to state clearly at the beginning of almost every speech I give: I have deep roots in this area. My uncle deployed from the Whidbey Island Naval Base to Vietnam when he was just 19 years old and did two tours of duty to earn his citizenship. He sponsored my parents to immigrate here and I was born in America. I may look foreign, but I am just as American as you. I have just as much right to be here as you.

It doesn’t particularly hurt me, that my family was accused of being here illegally: I’m a lawyer, a college professor, and a political candidate. Not many barbs will pierce my thick skin. But I hurt for the children of color in Edmonds who may also be asked the same question: “Are your parents illegals? Are you supposed to be here?”

I’m angry on behalf of community members like Mr. Jay Lal, whose store was spray painted with the words, “Go Back.” Ten years ago, if you had asked me how people of color are doing in Edmonds, I would have never said that you need a thick skin to get along here. I would have never thought that the politics of dehumanization and hate would permeate down from the national level to our beautiful little town on the Puget Sound. But here we are.

So what are we going to do about it? Are we going to pretend that these are “isolated incidents,” or are we going to state loudly and clearly: Hate has no home in Edmonds. I vote for the latter.

Jenna Nand
Edmonds

22 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Hate has no home in Edmonds”

  1. I’m so very sorry you have had to deal with such an unwelcome question.
    But I feel safe in saying I’m sure you’ll find more welcoming people than that person.

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  2. Hi, Jenna, as we celebrate The Indigenous People’s Day this past Monday, we are all reminded that us, non-Indigenous People are all immigrants at some point, we are all here for the same reason, which is to pursuit Happiness and a better life.

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  3. “What are we going to do about it?” We’ll take the country in a new direction next November, we’ll banish all the xenophobes back to the rocks they used to live under, we’ll continue to celebrate diversity and welcome differences. The USA was built by immigrants and thrives largely due to the strength they bring to “The American Dream.” Our national sidetrack will soon be forgotten and eventually be repaired.

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      1. Our neighborhoods are microcosms of what has happened nationally, with the “dogs of hate” released from shame and self-reflection. I agree Edmonds has always been a nice place, and I hope a few morons do not change your opinion of the rest of us.

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        1. Jenna, that’s horrible what happened to you, and frankly I think you should provide a name to the police. Were there others who heard this?

          Also, has there been any update in regards to terrible hate crime you reference involving Mr. Lal? Have the police made any arrests? Is that business still vacant due to the investigation? It’s sad to go past that fenced off lot and be reminded of this on an almost daily basis.

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      2. Thanks, Dan, my uncle Ravindra is actually the Lal family’s pundit (priest) and he says that Mr. Jay Lal has decided not to open his business at that location. The family just wants to avoid trouble, they are scared. There haven’t been any arrests and I don’t know that the investigation is ongoing.

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  4. Perhaps if sanctuary cities up and down the coast’s support for illegal immigration wasn’t such a slap in the face to the rest of us immigrants who migrated legally, there wouldn’t be such an empowerment of white supremacists happening.

    If we enforced the laws instead of allowing them to be broken on everybody else’s dime, these white supremacists wouldn’t have any backbone to open their ugly mouths.

    By allowing laws to be broken, and favoring illegal activities, the progressives have divided the country.

    Enforce the laws and we will reunite again!

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    1. Edmonds actually isn’t a sanctuary city. But Snohomish County is a sanctuary jurisdiction. So Sanctuary City laws apply in unincorporated Snohomish County, but our city, if that makes sense.

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    2. It’s sad that you consider progressives to have unilaterally divided the country. After all, it takes 2 to create a divide. Laws must be upheld, totally agree. But there are legitimate questions about whether or not Trump administration and ICE are going beyond the word and intent of the laws. The current sanctuary city movement began in early 2017 as a response to what many citizens saw as government over-reach (something any libertarian should appreciate), and cruelty. Has the sanctuary movement gone too far? Maybe in some cases. But these Sanctuary movements are not about anti-government or anti-Trump. They are people saying that they do not support the morality of current enforcement methods. The country is not going to re-unite over what is perceived as immoral behavior on the citizens behalf. Your closing line is one I’ve heard many times from the Right. Just agree with us and all problems are solved. The solution is in respecting the laws, but also in ensuring that government is focusing on the right ways to enforce them. The right perpetrators to prosecute. Trump said he was only going after “bad Hombres”. Unfortunately that definition became a little too broad for many to stomach.

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      1. Thank you Charles for your considered reply. I don’t want to drag this forum into the weeds of partisanship so I’ll just say it lightens my heart that thoughtful people like yourself are still active in the community. Go Edmonds!

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      2. “Your closing line is one I’ve heard many times from the Right”
        That’s exactly my point. Asking for laws to be enforced should not be associating me with the Right.
        For the record, I voted for myself in 2016. Wrote my name in. 🙂

        I believe that the far left by creating things like sanctuary cities, has created a separation that is feeding the extreme right’s agenda. Across the country. It makes idiots think their actions are ok, having no decency is acceptable because the other side has gone so extreme. And it is extreme. It’s anarchy.
        Trump is no help neither, but shouldn’t these sort of discussion be happening at the federal level? Like where our Congress is? Where the people we voted in to discuss? Instead of just complaining, get a solution out. Propose something.
        The whole immigration system needs a re-haul. A political topic for the last 40 years, with no progress.
        ^^ And all of that is my opinion on the matter, but it’s not the whole me.
        All this extreme left feeding the extreme right that’s feeding the extreme left and the cycle goes on and on is making people think it’s okay to be jerks and to it’s okay to judge people by their views and associate them to a political party. How about we cut it out and stop taking sides?

        Jenna, thank you for your uncle’s service.
        And if somebody asked me if my parents were illegal, I would say, hmm, I don’t know.. you can ask them. Then I’d wonder why I know that person 😉

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  5. Thank you for your letter, Jenna Nand. I too am an immigrant, (from Trinidad, in the West Indies) and have been subjected to silly irrational comments. Truth be told it does not bother me anymore. I am a proud citizen of the US. I’ve lived in this country for the over 40 years, 17 of which have been spent in Edmonds, WA. I love the city and have no plans to leave until the Lord calls me home. I’ve recently decided that I would like my remains to be interred in a little spot right here as well (this idea suddenly came up because I’ve always said to my family ‘take my bones back to Trinidad for burial). I love my Edmonds and pray that folks would understand that their words hurt and that kind of talk does not belong anywhere in the US and Edmonds is too beautiful to be considered a racist city. We are better than that.

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  6. Jenna: Maria Here! I think hate and racism are taught by the parents. Yes babies can discriminate and that is good to be able to discriminate Mom from Dad; grandma from grandpa; aunts from Uncles etc, but what is bad is when the parents of this child start using discrimination as a way to say, “We are better than you” — then it turns to dehumanize one race (one disability, one nationality) from another. It reminds me of a movie called “South Pacific” with Mario Punzo and in this movie he sings, “You got to be carefully Taught”. Here are the words. “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear — You’ve got to be taught — from year to year — it’s got to be drummed — in your dear little ear–You’ve got to be carefully taught! You’ve got to be taught — to be afraid — of people whose eyes — are oddly made — and people whose skin — is a different shade — You’ve got to be carefully taught! You’ve got to be taught — before it’s too late — before you are 6 or 7 or 8 — to hate all the people — your relatives hate — You’ve got to be carefully taught! and I am wondering if South Pacific is teaching us to look at people who are immigrants to the U.S. with welcoming arms, not with suspicion and hate. I don’t care if you are here illegally or not; however, if you are willing to work hard for the things you get, work hard for the city you call home, work hard for your family then, and only then, are you a true U.S. citizen all the way through. Your family did that. My family did that. Grandpa was a hard worker; never asked for food stamps or any handout when the going got tough. He was proud of his work right up until the day he died. He was born in America’s heartland and was raised to farm only what your family and community needed. If there was a person who needed food because their crops failed..you best better bet that Grandpa would supply them with what they needed until they were back on their won two feet. He took that attitude right into the Army and served with distinction in World War 2 right along side a women who would, in two years, become his wife. Mom was born shortly after in 1950. Now my father is Hispanic. He is the first generation Puerto Rican born here in the U.S. from my grandmother Tessie and Grandpa Vinnie. Grandma and Grandpa were born in San Juan Puerto and emigrated to the U.S. when they were 2 years old. I don’t know how great-grandma and great-grandpa became U.S.citizens back then, but it doesn’t matter. Grandma Tessie and Grandpa Vinnie ARE U.S. Citizens. Grandma Tessie and grandpa Vinnie’s lives were a lot different than Grandpa John and Grandma Lila–the two I was talking about earlier in my post. Grandpa Vinnie worked in the Puerto Rican part of Long Island NY probably working the Puerto Rican markets which is hard work and long hours; however, I don’t know because I really haven’t asked my Dad. Anyhow, grandmother was 16 years old when she had my Dad and yes that is young by American standards, but for Puerto Rican people when you got married you had children right away. Dad grew up in NY and when he was 18 enlisted in the Army where he met a young girl and in short time they were married. Three years later I was born. I tried on my 18th birthday to join the military as all my family before, but because I have Type 1 IDDM I am Department of Defense 4F (I can’t join). So you see??? I am an immigrant and I am proud to be an immigrant. My parents are not native; (although we are looking into that as one of my ancestor’s married a Native American) some of us came from the “Old World” (Europe), and some of us came from a completely “New World”. However, we all consider ourselves U.S. citizens because we have lived here our whole entire life, (grandma Lila b. 1915 d. 1999 and grandpa John b 1915 d. 2003) as well as some of us are still living our lives, but that doesn’t make us less of an immigrant than what the new immigrants are coming over for. They want a better life for themselves and for their families. This is exactly what Grandpa John and Grandma Lila wanted for their families and I am sure that is what Great grandma Maria Rivera (who I am named after) wanted for her family. We are a salad (with dressing of course!)..not a melting pot! Right?

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