United Against Hate
What Grows in Fear
by Jen Siraganian, Los Gatos Poet Laureate
Delivered at the United Against Hate Walk in Los Gatos, CA on November 14, 2021
In gardens of fear, hatred sprouts
like persistent clover,
so let me share my fears.
I’m scared to say my father was born
in Syria, survived bombings in Palestine,
and immigrated as a refugee.
I’m scared to say refugee or Palestine
because when I say either word, people smile
at me differently or don’t smile at all.
I’m scared to speak of my Armenian grandparents
who lost their siblings, parents, homes,
childhoods, because of a Genocide.
I’m scared to mention my grandfather
orphaned on the streets of a Turkish village,
so young he never learned his birthday or last name.
My four-year-old knows his birthday and last name.
Asleep in his Daniel Tiger bed, he is unaware
hate is next door, at the table eating pepperoni pizza,
or behind him in line for a hot chocolate.
My son hasn’t learned that hatred kills,
but when he does, I will urge him to fight
against the thing that scares him the most.
I will remind him that if more people said,
this is wrong, their words could have shattered
the annihilation of peoples.
And I imagine if he asked my late grandparents,
can one voice stop hatred, they would gather him
in his orange pumpkin pajamas and whisper
in Armenian, if you’re lucky enough
to have a voice, you better use it.
Los Gatos United Against Hate Walk
Thank you to all of our partners and the over 2,000 community members who came together on November 14, 2021 to unite against hate and walk for love and peace in Los Gatos. We are committed to diversity and inclusivity and we are stronger together.
In partnership with:
- Los Gatos Town Council
- Office of the District Attorney for Santa Clara County, Jeff Rosen
- Assemblyman Evan Low
- Senator Dave Cortese
- Congresswoman Anna Eshoo
- Los Gatos Union School District
- Los Gatos Saratoga Union High School District
- Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce
- New Museum Los Gatos
- Jewish Silicon Valley
- Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley
- Yavneh Day School
- Congregation Shir Hadash
- Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos
- Los Gatos Interfaith Clergy Group
- Los Gatos Anti-Racism Coalition
- Rotary Club of Los Gatos
- St. Luke's Episcopal Church
- LGCS Girls Softball Association
- Los Gatos Little League
- Plant-Based Advocates Los Gatos
- Anti-Defamation League
- Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Los Gatos
- KCAT TV & Radio
- Hillbrook School
- League of Women Voters of Southwest Santa Clara Valley
- Uplift Family Services
- Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education (APAHE)
- De Anza Puso
- Filipino Youth Coalition (FYC)
- Pilipino Association of Workers and Immigrants (PAWIS)
- La Raza Roundtable
- Los Gatos Saratoga Recreation
- Los Gatos United Soccer Club
- Baha'i Community of Los Gatos
- Testarossa Winery
- Sweeney Mason LLP