When speaking of difficult things, like racial divide, multi-cultural tension, voter intimidation, housing disparity, and other unfair, sometimes intentional harm, it often draws consensus that these issues exist, that individuals can be mistreated, and that something must be done.
Commonly, the agreement is followed by, “…but not here in La Crosse!” I am struck by the idea that bad stuff is real, but somewhere else. It is this belief that allows things to persist systemically, and one recent noteworthy example of it is the public character assassination of Joella Striebel, a volunteer of the Criminal Justice Management Council, right here in La Crosse.
Systems are in place that make La Crosse a positive and negative place to live; a welcoming, friendly, cold, unpleasant place to have family; a safe, secure, scary, reckless place for home; and a united, tolerant, divided, segregated city in which to grow. We are all these things, like every other little and big towns across the world. It speaks to the complexity of humans living together. However, the hazard lies in the denial.
Some see, but do not speak; while some do not see, but protect a simple, pleasant image. Some do speak, in the case of Joella Striebel, and end up in jeopardy anyway.
Denying the complexity in which we live, by uplifting only what is pleasing, creates systems that oppress, endanger, intimidate, divide, degrade, abuse, harass, bully, neglect, and humiliate. Like everywhere else, it does happen in La Crosse, where I call my home.