Monday, September 24, 2007

A Better Response

This story is about the Frederick, Maryland authorities' search for the missing mother, an El Salvador native, of children who were murdered by their father before he killed himself. The issue addressed in the article is whether she is alive or whether she was also killed. However, what struck me was the end of the article:
Rebecca Reckley, president of the neighborhood homeowners association, said her appreciation of the family's hardships deepened after the tragedy. She said
neighbors once complained about Benitez hanging laundry outdoors, but after seeing pictures of Sensuntepeque's dirt roads and mud floors, "I could understand why she was trying to dry clothes on the bushes - she didn't know any better."

Reckley said she and other neighbors kept their distance when the family arrived in 2005, part of a wave of Latinos that has dramatically changed the neighborhood's complexion in the past decade. But when another Hispanic family recently moved into the complex, Reckley made a point of welcoming them.

"The day those people moved in, I talked with the grandmother and the children. I want them to feel comfortable enough that if they need anything, that they know we're available," Reckley said. "I'm not going to have another Rodriguez."

With the initial reaction the neighbors had to the first family it would have been easy for them to view this crime as a confirmation of negative stereotypes even though intra-family murder suicides happen across all segments of our society.

So often we judge behavior that doesn't make sense to us rather than seeking to understand what to us is odd. People who are different also highlight some of the judgments we make which have no real relationship to people's character such as drying laundry outside.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:10 PM   0 comments links to this post


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