I was born in Compton and moved to Watts when I was a small child, where I have lived sinced. There is much beauty here, but also a lot of stuff no one wants to deal with: gang violence, failing schools, high unemployment and crime rates, filthy neighborhoods. From a fairly young age, I promised myself that I would do well in school and get a high-paying job so that I could afford to leave South Central and live in a better area. So far I'm getting close--one more semester and I'll have my BA degree. But for the last few years, a question has been nagging me: can I do more good just staying put?
I used to get very angry at the people who always told me to "remember my roots and help my community". Remeber my roots!?! Oh, I'll remember being mercilessly picked on and assaulted for daring to do well in school and be a decent person, I thought. I also wondered why I had to help my "community"; if I could help myself, why couln't anyone else? If they can't-- or won't--how is that my problem?
In the last few years I've become something of a Black nationalists and separatist (can't believe I was actually a Bush supporter in High school! What the hell was I smoking??? God, I'm gonna get some bad karma for that!). I spend much time thinking on how I can help improve the Black American community. Which does more good for a community--staying put with your affluence and trying to invest, or moving away but donating money and time to help?
Staying seems to have so many inherent dangers. I want to live where I won't be afraid to walk down the street in broad daylight, where police helicopters aren't flying around every single night, where people aren't harrassed at train stations by teenagers (who should be in school) hustling for money, where my property won't be vandalized b/c some jackasses with their pants around their knees think its fun. I want my children to not have to be afraid when they go to school, or stuck in an overcrowded class with incompetent teachers. When I look at areas like Watts, I sometimes wonder how I could possibly make any difference.
At the same time, I can't see how moving to the suburbs will actually help. I'm tired of passing store after store owned by jews, Koreans, and Arabs,and having them treat their Black clientel like crap. Sometimes I have this burning urge to create my own neighborhood stores--which won't sell alcohol--get a seat on the city council, invest in community outreach programs, heck, maybe even parter up with a likeminded individual to create clean, gated middle-class areas within the midst of Watts as a form of revitalization.
I don't know, I'm really confused on the issue. What do you guys think?