|Anaheim raised :)|
Anaheim-- I might have to say that I am sad. Most of my life Anaheim was known by everyone as the Happiest Place on Earth thanks to Disneyland. Especially to the tourist or communities surrounding it. Anaheim was just a place you came to rub elbows with Micky Mouse.
When I grew older and moved from Anaheim and I mentioned I grew up poor in the hood people always asked, "Where, East LA?" I guess they figured since I was from SoCal and was Mexican then that was probably my hood. Then when I told them Anaheim they all looked at me with a grin followed by a chuckle and smile. "Anaheim isn't hood." So they told me.
It would seem that even in Anaheim everyone denied the hood. They let it sit and fester and grow; and so long as it stayed where it couldn't be seen or avoided mixing with the "good parts" of the city then so what?
Now, now the police and public are screaming foul. They want to point the finger at the problem and do something about it. They want to incarcerate gang members and their known affiliates. Now, they have their ears close to the street. Now, they want action in the ghettos. Now, they see it acrimoniously instead of ignorantly. Now, they believe them to be belligerent instead of ominous.
Where was all this, "now", when I was young in those streets? When I was hungry, bullied, and wanted a way out? Yes, I found my way, but I'm not here to boast and brag about how I made it out. I'm here to fight for an injustice that permeates our culture and society today. MLK spoke of this disease (and I paraphrase): If things are going to change...then we need for the white moderate in America to wake from its apathetic slumber and make that change.
Apathy is the name of our disease here today. And the white moderate isn't only whites, but all of us who show contempt for ghettos and barrios across this nation. We ignore them until they bother us and then we act without remorse in punishing them.
All I am asking from those who cast stones on my city of Anaheim, where was all that, "now", when the ghetto was small? Where was your outcry when it needed your support to keep it growing in the right direction? I lived on my street...in my hood...15 years. And each year it slowly got worse. There was no "now", there was no how; we were simply ignored and left to one day die in the streets. Have riots in the streets. Make news and enemies in the streets.
I am writing this today because I was asked by my editor to do so because it is timely; but I also do it because I am a writer who has always written to promote positive change through greater understanding. I hope I have helped you to change "now".
I think of a line from my awaiting first published novel, Nobody's Hero, where the protagonist, Adrian Calvillo (who by many's assumptions grew up in the hood in Anaheim), "How do you get out of the hood...have a dream." For what it's worth, if it wasn't for my experiences in Anaheim; on those streets in the hood and surrounded by middle class white folks I guess I wouldn't be here today writing these lines. Nobody's Hero, is a novel that offers redemption; not only for my life, but for the entire community that shared my life. My dream...the dream that got me out of the hood, was that one day I could inspire the rest of my hood to dream their way out. Am I my brother's keeper...Well, yes I am.