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Dear Decaturish – Words hurt

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Dear Decaturish – Words hurt

The front steps of Decatur High School. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The front steps of Decatur High School. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

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Dear Decaturish,

For the first time the other day I drove the opposite direction down Mason Mill Road.  Truthfully, I’m not sure whether it was east, west, north or south.  I grew up in Chicago where there is a clear and distinct block system which one can count on making sense…Atlanta streets, making sense, not so much!

I was in awe driving in this new direction as it gave me an entirely new perspective and experience on the same rode I drive frequently.  My eyes were wider, my senses sharper and my body felt a surge of energy.  New perspectives can do that to us.

Several weeks back I read the Decaturish article posted regarding the “gang problem” at Decatur High School. When I saw the title of the article while scrolling through Facebook, I immediately stopped and clicked.  The word “gang” will grab my attention anytime as I have spent several years working among gangs and sometimes alongside them, but to my dismay the article wasn’t really about gangs.

I must admit upon first review my body became rigid, my blood began to boil and the word “moron” came out of my mouth.  This is the truth.  The words I read in regards to name calling and blaming the families and children who reside across the street from the high school catapulted me into a tirade in my mind.  How could someone go there?  Believe that?  Does our soon to become president truly give “all of us” the permission to speak our minds, peel off the layers of filters, throw words, hurtful words, out in the arena to spark change or draw attention?  As I say in my house, “Two plus two is not adding up to four.”

I have spent the last several weeks delving deeper into behind the scenes of the issues stated in the above mentioned article.  I’m not writing this to report my findings.  I did this investigation for myself.  I needed to understand how a situation(s) could lead to what appears to be an educated man to believe and standby the words he used.

I’m a parent. I know what it feels like to want the best for my kiddos. There are times I want to protect them.  There are times I have my goggles on and don’t see what part they may play in situations they encounter in their lives.  I admit that some of my first reactions in my mind aren’t always pleasant ones.  I don’t always speak my mind as planned as my emotions may get the best of me.

When words get heated, when we are called to speak out, we have struck a chord found within.  The topic at hand matters.  I have to believe that I am more similar to the gentleman who uttered hateful words towards others and words that have been damaging.  Damaging to those living in Decatur Housing Authority homes, community members like me, professionals and teachers who know and care about these families, the gentleman who made the statements and finally, his daughter who according to the stated fights in the article already has  a lot on her plate.  I am not similar from the above standpoint as my beliefs couldn’t be more opposite as I have been honored to know our fellow neighbors who reside in DHA homes.  We, the Decatur community, are fortunate to have the housing authority in our community.  The DHA is part of our history; change-makers for Decatur have resided there and still do.

I am similar to the upset and angry father as I know what it is like to have fear guide me.  Fear that takes hold and may lead me down the wrong path.  Fear that may cloud the entire picture not allowing me to take a view from different perspectives.  My experiences have taught me that operating from fear only snowballs into larger issues and issues that can become hurtful to others.

So, I write this in hopes that this gentleman may read these words and that with the passing of time be able to see and understand what his words have done, how they have hurt and how they don’t lead to lifting up our community members including his daughter.

– Marnie Grodzin

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