A Sea Change for Compton, the Country….

Introductory note: In spite of the frantic begging below, I can tell you that I’m quite happy this morning. ‘Cause I know I have my finger on the pulse. The pulse of our collective life, need. Just want to get down with you YESTERDAY. No need for apologies, defensive response. Let’s just get it done. What’s below is an unedited first draft. No need to tweak it, though, ’cause the healthy heart, head and soul in me should shine forth in all its glory as I call out for the citizens of Compton to come forth. Ask me where I was with Paul Robeson in 1949. Then, maybe, you’ll understand. And act with me in solidarity.

“We all want to see change, Papi.”
— the author’s youngest son

A Sea Change for Compton, the Country….
by Ox

“Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made,
Those are pearls that were his eyes,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change,
into something rich and strange,
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell,
Ding-dong.
Hark! now I hear them, ding-dong, bell.”
– from Ariel’s Song in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

For the second time in as many years, my intensive outreach to secure a mere discussion with people in Compton, California so that I can volunteer and donate for their purposes has been to no avail. In spite of that I am somewhat hopeful that the good folks I talked with on Friday via a long distance conference call — Mollie Bell and John Peoples and Steve Taylor and others associated with the Reparations Movement — will respond post haste to my gestures… after they receive my missives of Thursday and Friday, requested material for those who do not use the internet. They should have the articles, etc. in hand by Monday. But it’s Saturday right now… and Monday is a lifetime away.

Not in the minds of the people of Compton, apparently. They seem — thus far — to have no sense of the deadlines facing them. They seem to be dead in the water vis-à-vis The Sea of Urgency which I am trying to call their attention to; ditto for the whole country, actually. Compton is not alone in terms of taking each day as it comes as if there’s no need to move expeditiously respecting our collective crises.

But a sea change IS in order. It’s a tall order, of course, what I’m trying to address in solidarity. But it had better be embraced post haste. If Compton drops the ball, there’s going to be no court to play on. It’s all going to be over.

It’s almost all over now as I write. I mean, why — again — do I not receive a word back from the mayor’s office or from any of the other elected officials I reached out to repeatedly in the last couple of days? Same question with regard to the great number of educators and journalists in the realm. And people thereabouts who claim to be concerned with the environment. And others.

Heard not a word. Heard about Dr. Dre’s good fortune with Apple, of course. Wonderful. May he prosper and thrive. But I’m going to take a wild guess and say that if Compton goes down any further than it already is… something in him significant will die. Both Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar are graduates of Compton’s Centennial High School… one of the educational institutions which I reached out to over the last 48 hours. And I know that it would gladden their hearts for the rest of their lives if they knew what I was about, what prize my eyes is focused on. To say NOTHING about what I could do single-handed to transform the lives of the citizens in Compton. To say NOTHING about what I could do in solidarity with other concerned citizens in that realm. IF… we could acknowledge together the degree to which the Compton City website presents a false image of what’s going on there, agree on the fact that everyone seems to have their head in the sand.

Ostrich Syndrome. And that’s ditto for the entire country.

[NO HARD FEELINGS, PLEASE. I'VE SIMPLY GOT TO SAY WHAT I'M SAYING HERE. TO BE CLEAR. TO CALL A SPADE A SPADE. TO HAVE A SHOT AT GETTING DOWN WITH MAYOR BROWN AND OTHERS IN SOLIDARITY IN A MEANINGFUL FRESH WAY. I PRAY MY CRITICISM WILL BE TAKEN IN A CONSTRUCTIVE LIGHT. SO THAT WE CAN FIGHT THE POWERS THAT BE WHICH CARE NOT A WHIT FOR THE MISERY OF SO MANY, THE SEEDS PLANTED WHICH WILL NOT BLOOM IN TIME... THE CHILDREN WHO BEG FOR A DIFFERENT KIND OF ATTENTION FROM US.]

Let’s look for a moment now at the people who are far away from Compton. People who have it really cushy compared to the people of color and others who have been permanently marginalized, immiserated, misled… underfed. And so on ad nauseum.

Let’s take a really good look at the good people connected with the documentary A Sea Change. They happen to provide only one example of a dynamic which I have experienced — YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE THIS! — hundreds of times over the last nine years… with filmmakers. So… it’s not just them I’m criticizing here. They need to be lumped together with many other documentarians, AND we must compare their lack of interaction with me with the silence I’m meeting with OUT OF COMPTON.

In short, not a single person associated with the documentary http://www.aseachange.net/about.htm has responded to my outreach. That, in spite of the fact that they plead for citizens to take action. Put aside the fact that what they recommend in the TAKE ACTION segment of their website http://www.aseachange.net/take_action.htm is comprised of obsolete approaches to bringing about the necessary institutional change required to address acidification…. For I have offered to move in solidarity as they see fit, if they will only talk to me about my grassroots ideas first. NOTHING. NADA. ZIP. ZERO. Not a sound from their quarter. Not even a word in response from any of the scientists who are featured in the film, some of whom live and work in California, some of whom are in my backyard here in Santa Cruz.

Rikki Ott, who I learned about vis-à-vis her good work in response to the horrid Exxon Valdez catastrophe a long time ago, plays an important part in the documentary. But, again, reaching out to her produces nothing. I had attempted to bond with her over previous environmental concerns… but both then and now I only got as far as receiving a generic, meaningless, counterproductive response from her secretary. The person who, I’m guessing, is vested with the job of screening out grassroots enthusiasm and deeply experienced souls like me who want to make a difference in solidarity. In truth, I’m grasping at straws. The whole shebang is inexplicable to me.

Just as Norris McDonald’s lapse in communication is. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norris_McDonald, no doubt, is a good dude. He’s experienced and cares a lot about the kids in Compton and others. Seems like I came across the fact that he takes the youngsters on field trips to Catalina Island… giving students from Compton a chance to experience the pleasures and challenges of the world outside of the classroom. He did exchange some emails with me, and he did listen to me blah blah blah on the phone for a bit. But, then, he dropped off of the planet for my purposes.

Meaning, once the conversation got challenging, got going in a meaningful way… it ended abruptly. If that’s happened once with others it’s happened thousands and thousands of times in my effort to bond with concerned citizens to take action together following a fresh paradigm.

It’s sad. It’s sickening. For I can see quite clearly that NOTHING is being done to address the 23 Superfund sites doing their damage in Compton as I write. NOTHING being done either about all of the other “first cousins” of those Superfund sites. The OTHER environmental horrors which plague Compton. Again, ditto for the entire country.

Look, I know what’s off-putting about my approach. I am very aware that I reduce the odds of anyone wanting to work alongside me when I rant and rave this way, especially when I name names, and don’t do so in a comprehensive way… so that ALL are called on the carpet simultaneously.

AND… there’s always the question of WHO IS THIS PRESUMPTUOUS OUTSIDER? AND the internal ever-present interrogative: DO WE REALLY WANT TO TRUST ANOTHER WHITE GUY? In my case, we can go beyond race and proper protocol. We have deadlines to address which cannot let such niceties mess with potential action on the Big Picture. [To give one example, not a single soul out of hundreds I've interviewed throughout California, including residents of Compton, knew anything about the Bay Delta Conservation Plan... which stands to impact in a dire way on all living in Compton (and elsewhere) shortly; there is a window of opportunity right now which must be taken advantage of, one which will not come again.]

But to keep it all close to home and immediately real, I challenge EVERYONE connected with Compton to call me on my claims below… all from the top of my head this morning as I try to finish my first cup of coffee.

In no special order:

1. I can generate jobs for Compton.
2. I can improve education in Compton.
3. I can offer up a singular news service that would be the envy of the entire nation.
4. I can donate a singular library and curate it.
5. I can reduce crime in Compton immeasurably. And officials will be able to measure the positive results before 2014 is over.
6. I can help the youth to build self-confidence.
7. I can physically be there for one and all, living among the good citizens (and the bad), available 24×8.
8. I can help many improve their physical health.
9. I can generate ongoing positive publicity for Compton.
10. I can generate tourism which would not only benefit Compton, but be a plus for the entire country.

That’s enough for the moment. I don’t like talking to myself beyond a point, and at this juncture I want to get up off of my knees… tired of pleading, tired of bleeding my heart out, begging someone from Compton to come forth.

For a sea change.

Addendum: This just in. I noticed that at Dominguez High School’s website http://web.compton.k12.ca.us/index.aspx# they cite Raytheon under the umbrella of “Sponsors and Partners”. Well, it’s fine and dandy to secure money — maybe — from such a corporation if no strings are attached. Maybe. But… it’s really important for one and all to know what Raytheon is involved in on an ongoing basis which impacts negatively on Compton and the entire country. And I really don’t believe that the well-intentioned folks at Dominguez will have a clue as to what I’m talking about here, ever so important for their educational purposes, unless they sit down with me in relative confidence to discuss the whole kit and caboodle. Ditto re Dr. Dre and Apple (of my eye).