I like Billy Fried and his columns that tackle local issues. But his latest column, “The Great Skateboard Diaspora,” made my stomach hurt. He wrote that because our community does not have a skateboard park, “our kids will now know what it’s like to be a Syrian refugee, or experience the great failed Boston experiment known as desegregation.”
Even if this was an attempt at sarcasm, these analogies are offensive. Syrian refugees are families who no longer have homes. Due to the warring factions, they must walk away from their lives and hope that another country with a refugee camp will give them a place to rest and something to eat. The picture of the 3-year-old Syrian boy who washed up on the shores of Turkey will be forever etched in my mind. As for the Boston Experiment, this was due to the 1965 Racial Imbalance Act and a racist reaction to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Our lack of a skateboard park does not involve warring factions, families with nowhere to live or racial riots. Yes, I agree with you that we need a local skateboard park. But if our skateboarders have to go to the Aliso Skate Park, they will still come home to their million dollar homes and a safe community filled with mostly white middle to upper class families.
Words have power. I know from my own mistakes as a columnist. Years ago, I wrongly titled my “Mothering Heights” column on skateboard safety “GROMs be gone.” I received a lot of comments, including a couple from Mr. Gibbs. I also received anonymous phone calls saying that “I should move out of town and never come back.” Fortunately, I knew my family was safe and did not need to leave. That is the blessing of our city, a protected place where we can live together while we disagree.
Christine Fugate, Laguna Beach