While I consider myself a Tennessean, it would be more honest to say that I am from Memphis. I choose to live in East TN because I love the rolling hills surrounded by mountains. I love the way everyone knows everyone else through family and church connections. I like the fact that people talk to strangers as if they have known them all their lives. I am happy here.
When I worked, I traveled to other counties and saw and heard things that I knew were based on generations of fear and hate. It wasn’t until this week that I realized how naive I was not to see the prejudice right here in Knox County. It made me grit my teeth so much that my head and jaw ached every night this week. The physical pain and emotional exhaustion crescendoed when a nicotine stained finger pointed at me and lectured me about her “right” to say whatever she wanted to say. At that moment, I wished I had the “right” and the courage to punch her in the face.
I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by some of the things that were said at community forums this week. I don’t feel the way those parents feel. There are empty houses in my small subdivision. You are welcome here. I want our children to go to school together during the day and play at each other’s houses in the afternoons. We can fight together to keep our children in the nearby school instead of the one all the way across town. We can raise our children not to fear and hate.