I tried to talk about news in Compton, but I realized that the effort involved in researching news takes away from time spent doing other things. If there are news stories, I will link them, but only if I hear about them, usually from news consumed from KPCC or local television.
The most I could commit to is to journal about my own experience here.
Every day I'm here Compton.
West Compton to be exact.
It's home to the point where even after spending whole days in white affluent neighborhoods such as Malibu, Thousand Oaks, or Agoura Hills, it still feels good to see the Food4Less on Rosecrans and Central and being reminded that I'm almost home.
I haven't posted a ton about gangs specifically in my posts about Compton, because I'm not "in the know." But the tagging around the area lets us know that they're around. Otherwise I've been left alone so far --- I don't know how true that would be if I were a middle school kid at one of the schools or a teenager today.
I think that all across LA County, statistically, gang violence has not been as crazy since the 1990s.
From my readings of the Homicide Report, I think most violence is not "random" unless in the act of robbery. However, I live with the fear that we could get caught in crossfire. My saddest thought is that while our families would be in a world of hurt, the outside world that might happen on an obituary would probably dismiss it as another Compton story.
One Offering for Gangs that Tag
We've been left alone. I think that's awesome, and pretty much the most I could ask for at the current moment given the chaotic past.
From what I can see the only thing that doesn't suffer any outward physical neglect are the walls along the street, which are technically not "public space", but public in the sense that they frame the streets on which we walk.
Either the gangs tag them with their symbolic letters and numbers and/or someone whitewashes them. It's a back-and-forth that doesn't really have any indication of stopping.
On one hand, whenever I see a fresh tag, usually after a rainy day, I really just get tired. My thoughts are "what the fuck? And why?"To me it's like shitting where you eat, unless of course you don't live here. Why would you want to make the place where you live look shitty with your shitty ass tags?
On the other, my more holistic, Anthropological side tries to understand "what the fuck", and "why" --- probably because this activity defines them and establishes their symbolic if not real clout in the neighborhood. It's something that they've got to keep up, perhaps from tradition --- I don't know I think some traditions need to transform.
I truly wish there was something I could offer these folks that I'd want to actually give away.
That I'm thinking about is basically becoming a Father Greg Boyle, opening up a Homeboy Industries, somewhere here, hooking people up with jobs here and there. His modus operandi is "Nothing stops a bullet like a job"
If gangsters ever happen on this blog, I don't have jobs or anything to offer at the moment. I just have this. Please consider:
I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone - if possible - Jew, Gentile - black man - white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness - not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost....
The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men - cries out for universal brotherhood - for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world - millions of despairing men, women, and little children - victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.
To those who can hear me, I say - do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed - the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. .....
Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes - men who despise you - enslave you - who regiment your lives - tell you what to do - what to think and what to feel! Who drill you - diet you - treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men!
You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural!
Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!
In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” - not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power - the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.
Then - in the name of democracy - let us use that power - let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world - a decent world that will give men a chance to work - that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill that promise. They never will!
Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world - to do away with national barriers - to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite! - The Great Dictator's Speech