BY JAMES WERNICKE
On May 1, 2023, a 35-year-old horse rancher was fatally shot while driving home leaving behind a wife and 14-year-old daughter. His neighbor shot him 15-30 times while he was driving home. I want all the fathers to re-read that and think about it for a minute. The next part can wait…
In Latino culture, one of the proudest days of a father’s life is the day his daughter turns 15 and celebrates her “quinceañera”, or transition to womanhood. In another article, his daughter said referencing the suspect:
“Me and my dad were so excited to dance at my quinceañera, and now I don’t have him with me. So now I can’t dance with him. And he took that away from me, he took my dad away from me, he took my dad away from my brother.”
Let. That. Sink. In.
When they opened the horse ranch in 2020, his neighbor had repeatedly threatened him that Hispanics are not welcome. The family reported the incidents and nobody did anything to protect them.
Bigotry never begins as an overt act of violence, but when communities allow it to fester, that is always where it leads, such as robbing a daughter of her father right before her quinceañera. We can only practice tolerance so much. I commend the local media for having the integrity to allow all members of the community to express their opinions, but when members start spewing obstinate and unreasonable attachments to beliefs, opinions, or factions, in particular prejudice against people on the basis of their membership of a particular group, the rest of us must take a page from the queens who dare to be themselves – unapologetically bold – and use our freedom of expression to stand up against it.
In a land where hearts embrace,
Intolerance finds no rightful space,
For here we gather, united and strong,
A community where love belongs.
Prejudice, we turn you away,
You have no power, no place to stay,
Your narrow views, your judgment’s grip,
Will not tarnish the harmony we equip.
Inclusion reigns with open arms,
Dissolving divisions and past harms,
Diversity blooms in vibrant array,
Acceptance guiding our every way.
No matter the color, creed, or race,
Respect and understanding we embrace,
For in our differences, we find the key,
To unlock a world where all are free.
Intolerance, take your leave,
Your presence, we do not receive,
We’ll build a haven, free from fear,
Where compassion and love are crystal clear.
With open hearts and open minds,
We’ll foster unity that forever binds,
Together we stand, united and near,
In a place where intolerance disappears.
So let it be known, far and wide,
In this community, intolerance can’t abide,
For in our hearts, we hold it dear,
That intolerance ain’t welcome round here.