After the paintball damage to their home, Xia Wang and Ben Christensen reached out to a number of social justice organizations, including SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice), CALC, (Community Alliance of Lane County), the Unitarian Universalist Church, and your own SCCO’s newly formed Bias Response Team. The very same day the damage occurred, several dozen friends, neighbors, and concerned fellow citizens converged at Xia and Ben’s house, bringing items for cleanup, snacks, and flowers. This lively and enthusiastic group worked at scrubbing the house and cars for several hours, and made good progress. More cleanup and painting took place later.
My take-away from this story is, given our nation’s current climate of anger and intolerance, we may not be able to prevent this kind of incident. However, we all can make a difference by providing support afterwards. Here is a tidbit from the Bystander/Upstander training that several of us from the SCCO Social Justice Committee attended: If you witness an incident of harassment or aggression, the worst thing you can do is to ignore it. That leaves the targeted person feeling isolated, which compounds the hurt. It is important and helpful to approach the targeted person and offer support. You can do this by saying something very simple, such as: “I noticed your lawn sign was defaced. How are you feeling about that?” Take time to listen to their feelings, then ask how you can help. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a whole neighborhood to create an atmosphere that is welcoming, where everyone feels they belong.
The latest good news is that the help they received around the paintball damage has shifted Xia and Ben’s feelings about living in Santa Clara. When I mentioned to Xia that I hoped she wouldn’t move away after being targeted repeatedly, she said they will stay because of the overwhelming support they have received. In conclusion, this kind of neighbor-to-neighbor support can make a big difference, and it’s something we all can do.
SCCO Social Justice Committee and Bias Response Tea