HAVES, HAVE-NOTS, & THE Loyola Marymount University BRIDGE:
MYTHS OF THE GREAT REBELLION OF APRIL 29TH, 1992
Loyola Marymount University President's Day
A Homecoming for the Mind
Saturday March 27, 1993
Invited "LMU-President's Day" Speech Reflecting upon Los Angeles, One Year after the April, 1992 Rebellion/Riot/Revolution?
Note: These are Notes for the Speech (Not a Final Document--Capitalized sections are there so I could see what to focus on at the podium. I do not mean them as shouts.) The purpose of putting it on the Web is to give some historical documentatoin to how and why resident initiated tutoring and economic development was an empowered action of the Resident Management Corporation of Nickerson Gardens and how Loyola Marymount University came into a long term partnership.
WAS THERE AN ARMED TET OFFENSIVE OF GANGBANGERS, BAGGERS, AND TAGGERS AGAINST BEVERLY HILLS? IS LA ON THE BRINK OF ITS THIRD APOCALYPSE 1965, 1992, AND NOW 1993?
NICKERSON GARDENS IS BEING MUGGED BY THE "DOOM TUBE" AND BY USA TODAY!
WHITE LA FEAR FEEDS ON RUMORS. MASS HYSTERIA GETS SALLY OUT TO BUY HER A GUN AND 2 MORE BOTTLED WATER. THE FEAR BECOMES BASIS FOR FACT AND YOU HAVE AN OCCUPIED WAR ZONE, THEN THE FEAR GETS YOU WHITE FLIGHT, THEN BUSINESS FLIGHT, THEN TO KEEP THE PEACE AMONG ALL THE UNEMPLOYED PEOPLES, YOU NEED MORE ARMED MILITIA. THE MEDIA ARMY DESCENDS ON LA LOOKING FOR BLACK YOUGH TO INTERVIEW "hey kid, when are you going to riot? Are you going to gangbang in Beverly Hills this time?" "Hey, kid what is it like to be an African American male in this country?" "Hey, Korean man what is that gun you got over there? Is that an AK 47?" "Do all Latino youth have signs and nicknames?"
STEREOTYPES FEED FEARS, FEARS BUY GUNS, AND NICKERSON GARDENS IS THE CENTER OF THE APOCALYPSE. NOT TRUE!
NICKERSON GARDENS IS 66.5 ACRES OF PUBLIC HOUSING IN WATTS WITH 5,000 PEOPLE REJECTEC BY AN ECONOMY OF ECONOMIC RACISM, CONDEMNED AND CORALLED TO LIVE ON STREETS WITH CRUEL NAMES LIKE "SUCCESS AVENUE."
THE RIOT-HYSTERIA AGAINST CHILDREN OF COLOR MOBILIZED FIVE MILLION DOLLARS FOR THE VERDICT GUARD AND THE MASS ARTILLARY DISPLAY. THERE WAS A RIOT, IT WAS THE UPPER/MIDDLE CLASS YOUTH AT MAGIC MOUNTAIN. COULD WE SPEND THAT FIVE MILLION ON UNCROWDING THE CLASSROOM, ON SUMMER JOBS, ON ATHLETICS, ON TEACHER SALARIES, ON BIG BROTHERS AND BIG SISTERS.
"It's like a room where there's gasoline on the floor and what we do is stand around and watch the match (burn)" says Warren Furutani. ITS LIKE WACO TEXAS.
BANISHED IN PUBLIC HOUSING, DENIED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, WHILE LAPD ARCHERS CIRCLE THE ENCAMPMENT EAGER TO DETAIN ANY MALES WHO DRIVE BEYOND ITS PERIMETER.
NICKERSON GARDERS IS A PRISON OF PVERTY, A REMEGY FOR THE INDUSTRIAL DOWN TURN, A SOLUTION FOR GLOBAL COMPETITION, and AN EXCOMMUICATIONS FOR THE WORLD OF COMMERCE AND EMPLOYMENT, A TREADMILL FOR COLLECTIVE PROJECT LIFE.
LA RIOT MYTHOLOGY GET THE STORY STRAIGHT, NOT CROOKED!
THE CROOKED STORY MEDIA MYTHS:
1. IT'S A SOUTH CENTRAL RIOT! 55.2% OF THE 12,545 ARRESTS WERE OUTSIDE LA CITY LIMITS. There was rebellion from Pasadena to Long Beach to San Fernando to San Bernardino. And also New York, ATLANTA AND TORONTO. HIGHEST RIOT DENSITY WAS NORTH OF SANTA MONICA FREEWAY, NOT IN SOUTH CENTRAL LOS ANGELES. NICKERSON GARDENS WAS NOT THE CENTER OF THE RIOTS.
2. IT'S A BLACK RIOT. ONLY 38% OF LAPD ARRESTS WERE AFRICAN-AMERICANS. LATINOS WERE 45%. THERE WERE MORE SPANISH-SURNAMES CHARGED WITH ARSON THAN BLACKS. HEY AND 14%, SOME 1,447 ANGLOS WERE ARRESTED FOR RIOTING. BLOODS FROM NICKERSON GARDENS DID NOT LOOT HOLLYWOOD BLVD!
3. DARYL GATES SAYS "BLACK MUSLIM GANG LEADERS SYSTEMATICALLY PLOT TO BURN AND LOOT LA." BUT FBI FIELD AGENTS SAY NO EVIDENCE AT ALL OF THIS PLOT. MEDIA IGNORES THAT CRIPS AND BLOODS TRUCE HAS REDUCED GANG-RELATED HOMICIDES AND ARE PART OF THE GREAT URBAN PEACE MOVEMENT A PEACE MOVEMENT STARTED BY A RESIDENT OF NICKERSON GARDENS AND COMMEMERATED ON THE EXTERIOR GYM WALL OF THE DEAD CHILDREN. Everyone is out there with white paint trying to paint away the racism of the Grand Canyon.
4. COPS UNDERREACTED. GATES MARSHALLED BIGGEST MASS ARREST SINCE ANTI-WAR PROTESTS OF 1971. IN NICKERSON GARDENS, DENNIS JACKSON AND ANTHONY TAYLOR WERE TWO LOCAL MEN DRINKING BEER IN THEIR PARKING LOT WHEN THEY WERE CAUGHT IN A "SUPPOSED" GUN FIGHT BETWEEN LAPD AND ALLEGED "SNIPERS." THE MOTHERS KEPT THE PEACE, CALMED THE YOUTH, FORMED RUMOR CONTROL LINES, DISTRIBUTED FOOD TO THE HOMELESS, AND KEPT THE LAPD OUT OF THE COMMUNITY TO KEEP THEIR BOYS AND GIRLS ALIVE.
5. REBUILD LOS ANGELES. MEDIA MYTH! CAN WE REBUILD LOS ANGELES WHILE LA SCHOOLS, ESPECIALLY NICKERSON GARDEN SHOOLS ARE UNDER-FUNDED AND WHILE HUMAN SERVICES FOR LA ARE UNDERGOING A FISCAL APOCALYPSE? CAN WE REBUILD LA WHILE WHITES, 37% OF LA POPULATION MAKE UP 70% OF THE VOTERS & 80% OF THE FEDERAL GRAND JURY POOL OF THE KING CIVIL-RIGHTS TRAIL? CAN WE REBUILD LA WHILE THEIR BOARD MEMBER, HUGHES AIRCRAFT, SENDS two THOUSAND MORE JOBS TO TUSCON ARIZONA---MORE WHITE FLIGHT. THE REBUILDING OF LA IS BEING DONE BY THE RESIDENTS OF NICKERSON GARDENS THROUGH VOLUNTEERISM, NOT BY GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS, NOT BY POLITICIAN PHOTO OPS, AND NOT BY BIG BUSINESS RLA. After the riots, 50,000 still unemployed; only 3 in 10 stores have been rebuilt, and the Nickerson Gardens Construction firm has not got a single contract to rebuild any part of LA. The government is subsidizing business to FLEE LA to suburbs and other cities with good schools.
6. KIDS RIOT BECAUSE THEY CAN NOT READ. MEDIA MYTH. I VISITED THE 112TH STREET & 111TH STREET SCHOOLS AND JORDON DOWNS HIGH SCHOOL. THERE IS DISCIPLINED EDUCATION GOING ON THERE. THERE ARE PEOPLE PASSING SAT TESTS THERE.
1970 55% Black males completed HS
1980 66% Black males completed HS
1990 76% Black males completed HS
SAT GAP BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE HAS NARROWED.
BUT THE "RACIAL WAGE GAP" HAS WIDENED- average black wage drop from $19/hr in 1973 to $16.70/hr in 1991.!
1973- White H.S. grads earned 10% more than Black Grads.
1989- Whites earned 17% more.
Anglo Latino Black Asian
$44,426 $33,817 $34,290 $33,758
racist pay gap has to stop.
FACTS ABOUT NICKERSON GARDENS GET THE STORY STRAIGHT
LMU'S NICKERSON GARDENS TUTORING PROGRAM.
THIS STORY IS DEDICATED TO BSU, BELLES, AND SURCUM CORDA FOR GETTING STUDENT TUTOR TEAMS TO NICKERSON THIS SEMESTER. THANK YOU BRENDA FOSTER, LUPE, BRENNAN, DAN, RICHARD, JON, HERBERT MEDINA, JUDITH WHITE, VICKIE GRAF, KEVIN O'CONNER.
1. Earlier this semester, my TA, Reuben and Brenda Foster of Sursum Corda and I went before the Nickerson Gardens Community. We stood in the gymnasium and outlined the LMU tutoring program. Teams of LMU students and professors coming to Nickerson Gardens each week to tutor K through 12. Then the community voted. Why did they vote?
The residents believe in resident initiative. They decide which Universities, which media, which politicians come to their community. During the past two years I have seen every politician you can name come to Nickerson Gardens, promise 20, 60, 80 million dollars in programs, jobs, training, child care, and you know what, after the camera crews pack it in, it is all talk. The money goes someplace, but it does not trickle down to the community.
Residents have seen the media crews come in, and nickname thier children "Li`l Half Dead, and Li'l Spread, Li'l Duke, Baldy, Half Breed" they know the media gets bigger circulations by getting their stories a little crooked, a little more gangland, a little more crooked sells papers." Do they report the Community's peace keeping efforts? Do they report how this public housing, high poverty, no jobs community collects food for people who do not have homes, how they build pride in their neighborhood, in their children, in themselves? NOT.
Fliers. The community voted yes. We got Collegiate Press, you know "Graphics" to print a 1,000 fliers on the community's own paper for half price and I hid the cost in one of my college budgets. Brenda put some toons on it, Lupe translated it into Spanish. The flier looked good. Finally, Herbert Medina drove it to Nickerson before his department meeting.
Brenda, Brennan, Jon, Lupe, Richard, Dan and I went there and no fliers were to be found. Someone had put them in the trunk of thier car. We found them and at 4PM on a Wednesday afternoon, the LMU students took off throughout the Housing Development to distribute fliers to 1,046 units of Public Housing.
No Fear. They ran door to door, talking to kids, greeting adults. "Hi, we are from LMU. Have you heard about the tutoring program? Here is a flier, sign you kid up. Come on down, we will make learning fun for you." What enthusiasm, when energy, what courage.
I ran into the RMC building and got the mother volunteers together. "Please take care of them, they are very naive about things." The mothers bolted out the door, each took a LMU tutor by the hand and escorted them around their community. "These are Loyola Marymount students. They are here to work with the kids, for their tutoring."
1. They did not need a 1,000 more LAPD officers to protect them, they were under the cover of the Mothers of the Hood.
2. Our fears are secured by their love.
3. Our fears are secured by their trust.
4. Our fears are secured by their laughter.
5. Our fears are secured by their hugs.
6. Our fears are secured by their pot lucks.
2. Fear Mongers! Last week Brenda and Lupe asked me: "Are we going to tutor at Nickerson today? I don't know yesterday the LMU students got riot-flu, I am not sure, there is a lot of fear around LMU, maybe we should cancel.
Brenda and Lupe: "What kind of message would it send from LMU to Nickerson Kids. We are too scared to come to tutor you today! We say go!" And we went. The sun was shining and the Mothers walked their kids home from school to the offices of the RMC and sat their kids at the tutoring tables. There was Jose and Edward, African-American and Latino children, 20 in all, crowded around a couple of tables with four LMU students; books open, pencils all around; I laid on the floor and rebolted a table leg that had been put on to fold shut instead of fold open, kids handed me screw drivers and steadied the table as I did my work. There we did it, the table won't fall on you anymore.
I asked an NGRMC board member, how is it going? "It's awful all day long I have to chase out the "Rebellion Support Activists and Agitators" "These outsiders come in here with their fliers asking us to riot and protest and hand them to our teenagers." "They hand the fliers to our kids and then they go home and watch the blood bath on their TV's." "I have to go before the community and explain why I went door to door and collected those fliers and threw them in the dumpster." "I got tired of chasing them out with my broom, so I called the LAPD." "They came (LAPD) and arrested them bunch of communists. (The brochure cites the rist of white supremacy in America, exhalating violence against women, the use of the war on drugs to fuel police and Rambo organizations and America's move toward fascism).
The previous week, I had gone next door and bought lots of candy, pop corn and sugar bombs. The principals at 111th Street and 112th Street Schools and even at Markham Middle school had told me:"keep it fun, not too much work the first tutor session or the kids will not come back." As I heeded their advice, throwing candy left and right, a riot broke out as tutors demanded I cease my rebellious fun, but the kids were smiling, and I knew they would tell other kids they had had a terrific time this day.
This week I noticed that Jose had a cartoon he had drawn. He had drawn SAGAT, RYU, HONDA, a girl named: "CHUN LI" and an ESKIMO named "KEN." I had an idea instead of candy, I would distribute copies of Jose's toons. Jose and I went next door and began to make photo copies. Once again I had started a riot. I made 10 copies of Honda and asked Edward to go next door and distribute them. Pretty soon, Steve and Mike came in to complain; "Edward kept all the toons for himself, we did not get any." "Edward" I said: "It is good to share!"
"Can I have 20 copys of Sagat" "me too" "me too!" Before I new it there were a dozen boys around me, screaming "I want Honda" "I want 20 Ryu's." Fearing a riot would break out, I asked "Can you live with 10, 20 is so many, we might get shut down here." "How about 4, I will make you each 4?"
"What do you do with the copies?" "Oh, we will give them to our friends at school. They can color them. Can I have 10 more?"
I have been trying for weeks to work with Edward. He is old enough for second grade, but is in first. He can write his name now, but when the Mothers at the RMC began to tutor him, he could not copy an A B or a C. I took Edward upstairs and got him going on the Windows program. He likes to run the mouse across my desk at high speeds. He pounds the mouse and I say "take it easy, chill, the mouse is a delicate animal, push it too hard and it won't breath right." I reached out, took his hand in mine and gently guided the mouse to pick up the Ace of Hearts off the video deck. Together we moved it to the place reserved on the screen for the first Ace. "Now we can take that Black King and put it in that space, then this Red Queen you move it on top of the King. After that it is Black, Red, Black, Red, Black, Red." I let go of his hand and he seemed to get it.
Now I do not know if Microsoft Windows and Solitaire will improve Edward's Reading. But, if Edward keeps coming back and the LMU students keep crossing the Grand Canyon between our ivory white tower and the WATTS TOWER, then maybe there is hope.
3. FACT: NICKERSON GARDENS JOBS FOR RESIDENTS PROGRAM
FOR TWO YEARS NOW, BEFORE GOING TO NICKERSON WAS A HIP HOP THING TO DO, I HAVE WORKED ON BEHALF OF NGRMC TO GET RESIDENTS INTO JOBS IN THE BUREAUCRACY THAT SURROUNDS AND ENCAMPS THEIR HOUSING COMMUNITY.
DUAL MANAGEMENT. A year ago, I helped negotiate a contract between NGRMC and the City's Housing Authority Department (HACLA) on behalf of Nickerson Gardens. I am the White bulldog sent in by the Residents in my suit and tie (the only time I am proud to wear one) to do battle against the White bureaucrats. Fight White with White.
After months of negotiation, promises, recapitulation, trust, mis-trust, we got a contract for seven jobs in gardening, cleaning, and typing.
Last year scores of residents eagerly filled out job applications, 45 got interviewed, and 15 got selected for the workshop training. Of these only 7 would go to work.
Last December, I organized the residents to put on their own employment readiness workshop. Sister Jackson was my co-facilitator, Sister Sprinkles read off the policies, Sister King shared here vision of Resident Initiative, Resident Management and Dual Management. Sister Lucille did a conflict management workshop to help residents deal with the cold soldiers they would get from bureaucrat employees who viewed residents as low life, lazy, drug addicts out to take away decent folks jobs.
Me, I spoke of Healthy, Happy, and Terrific. I lead the cheers, and brought my cap and gown for their graduation ceremony. Most of all I helped the residents to run their own workshop so next time they could do it alone, without me, without the government, just them.
Second Day of Workshop. On the second day, one lady was late. I told her she could come in if the others took a vote and let her in. But when it came to select the NICKERSON SEVEN who would go to work, I called and told her she did not get the job. "It was because I was late the second day, wasn't it?" "yes, you were late and we just can not risk it. If anyone is late on the job, misses a day, or anything else, the "AUTHORITY" will shut us down. We have struggled too long and too hard to take that risk." She cried on the phone and said "I understand, I understand, you are doing the right thing. I will come out to the next workshop."
So the NICKERSON SEVEN went off to work, but were sent home. No drug test. Test them. We tested them and sent them back to work. No insurance, get them liability and worker's comp insurance. We had to pay five times the liability of white America, but we got the job done and sent them back. No workers comp safety harnesses, got them and sent them back to work.
The Nickerson Seven have been on the job for over three months without one absenteeism, without one tardy, without one incident. They have achieved terrific performance reviews. When I see them, they ask me, How do you feel? "HEALTHY HAPPY AND TERRIFIC!" says I.
GET THE STORY STRAIGHT. The morale of the tutoring and the Nickerson 7 stories are that:
1. Nickerson Gardens was not the center of the riots.
2. In tutoring, African American and Latino-American children are working it out together.
3. When I looked around the Tutoring program there was one LMU white tutor, one LMU Latino tutor, and one LMU Asian tutor working with the kids of Nickerson Gardens. That has got to be a formula for LA.
4. The Nickerson Seven want to work, are good at work, and are reliable. Instead of White Business Flight, I say make Nickerson Gardens and every public housing encampment a free trade, no taxes for big and small business zone. Let the residents Rebuild Los Angeles.
TAKE TIME TO LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE OF NICKERSON. TAKE TIME TO CROSS THE GRAND CANYON OF RACISM. TAKE TIME TO BUILD YOUR OWN PERSONAL BRIDGE TO THE COMMUNITY. FILL IN THE GRAND CANYONS OF SEPARTE AND UNEQUAL WITH A HUG AND A LAUGH. BE A VLICE THAT COUNTERS THE VOICES OF THE FEARMONGERS. INSTEAD OF PUTTING MORE POLICE ON THE STREET, PUB MORE LMU TUTORS ON THE STREET AND PUT MORE JOBS ON THE STREET.
4. STORY OF WHY I WENT TO NICKERSON GARDENS.
Before the second rebellion, I got a phone call from a former [UCLA] MBA student (Lauren Frelix). Come to Nickerson Gardens, we want you to work with the Residents who are trying to do something about the education of their children and trying to get themselves empowered to build their own jobs and their own businesses. And I went and they said: What does a pink-faced, over-privileged, over-educated, Harley-Davidson driving guy know about our Grand Canyon? Don't think we need some pink-faced person coming around here telling us how to survive in this here Grand Canyon? I choked, and clutched, and said: "All I know is my mother was on welfare, I know what it is like to stand in line for lard and cheese, and I have seen the welfare workers come into my house, enter my room, and pull open my chester drawers and say: "where'd you git that tranistor radio, you'll have to report that as income." I told Nora King, the president of the Resident's Management Corporation: "I do not have a program, or a solution, or a even a recipe, but if you give me something to do, I will get it done." Nora, told me: "Kids need tutors, get us some." "People need jobs, work with us, don't do for us, so we can get us a contract with the city for dual management." Before the rebellion, I asked around and no one from LMU would give me the time of day. One girl almost came with me to visit, but then backed out when a friend told her: "what you want to go out there for, you could get killed?" Finally, Judith White, a new professor came out, then Herbert Medina in mathematics, and Vickie Graf from Education, and Kevin O'Connor from Learning Resource Center. Then, finally some students from Judith's and my management classes went to work with the kids at Halloween. Once there, across the Canyon, they could see the kids, the mothers, the volunteers. Six College of Business faculty took Dr. Jabbra up on his offer to take home old computers, when they got the fancy ones with the mouses, but instead of going home, the six computers were donated without ceremony or attention to Nickerson. After the rebellion, I was no longer alone, students now think it is OK, cool, hip, to be community spirited.
For a year and half students and faculty at LMU have been building a bridge across the grand canyon to reach out to one community: Nickerson Gardens. 5,000 rafters on 65 acres of the largest public housing complex in Southern California. One span of our bridge to Nickerson is a tutoring program sponsored by Sirsum Corda, and more recently by the Belles, and Black Student Union. A second span in this bridge is jobs & business development. Now all you may know about Nickerson Gardens is that police killed three young men in a firefight the first night of the rebellion. Or, you may know Tyrone (Ty-Stick) Baker, a former Blood from Nickerson who helped forge the truce. Or you may have seen the wall of the Gymnasium, which like the Vietnam wall, lists the names of those murdered while navigating the grand rapids. But, our Loyolan reports some good news. Glen, from our PR office rode on the back of my Harley Davidson to film some good news.
We in over-privileged, over,-educated, over-classed, White American Haves, living on this LMU hill can climb the White ivory Church Tower and look across the Grand Canyon to see the under-advantaged, under-franchised, under-educated, under-privileged --- those have-nots on the other side of this canyon.
We climb our tower and when we see smoke we send food, blankets, money to Rev. Cecil L. Murray, pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church, and paint brushes to white-wash the charred walls of the Grand Canyon. But, there is not enough white paint in the entire world to rebuild the LA canyon walls of racism and sexism. Perched on the edge of the other side of the canyon are Single-parent, mostly female-led families make up 84% of the 2.4 million Californian parents and children on our welfare roles. Yes, the State spends $2.8 billion on AFDC, but the canyon continues to deepen and widen.
The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles no longer puts people on waiting lists for public development housing [In 1991 there were 1,200 a month going onto the wait list]. Waiting on lines that never move is considered cruel and unusual punishment. Let them fall upon the boulders and whirl pools separating the haves and the have-nots in America. Let them live in dwelling with lead paint poisoning and hear politicians promise jobs and programs that get them re-elected but never seem to help even one citizen out of the Canyon. Let the raging waters widen and deepen the walls of racism and sexism. Let the barges of leaky schools with broken oars continue to deny basic education to young rafters; at HUD there are no more house boats, let the people live on the streets; at the LAPD, rapid waters officers keep riding around in rafts waving their fists of force to intimidate the next canyon-tidal wave of rafters who will be washed from the cliff into the canyon, instead of beaching their rafts to get to know the people on the economically-depressed shores; the haves promise to paint the canyon walls, rebuild the LA dams, but the walls are chiseled by the economy of indifference, sculpted by the de-skilling of the American work force, and de-faced by the investment bankers who grow rich by changing everyone fees for rides across the river and even for diverting channels of small business jobs out of Los Angeles, out of California, and out of America; what about our Press Corps --- USA Today surveyors climbed down the canyon walls last February and got young rafters to stand like bandoleers along side their raft as if "itching" to fight the next riotous rapids, but the real story is that these rafters were surrendering their weapons of destruction to a program that offered them jobs as their reward. Other press surveyors make this next tidal wave a self-fulfilling story as they re-played pictures of the same stretch of waters, over and over, instead of filming the stiller, calmer waters, the counter-currents that met the raging waters, and quelled the anger, hurt, and abandon. Do the educators, police, business leaders, government bureaucrats, and our press corps want calm waters? If they wanted the peaceful waters there would be job programs, school reform, and real-Rebuild LA, not Rhetoric LA.
The next rebellion will happen because it is self-fullfilling. History will repeat itself because the rafters shut out of the American dream of traversing the Grand Canyon have developed an "I-don't-give-a-f___" attitude. And a lot more rafters are going to die. They will die because it is easier to let the age-old Canyon grow deeper and wider, then to build bridges, cultivate calm water, or re-channel the raging waters to re-energize an agonizing American economy.
Building and maintaining this bridge is a struggle. No pain, no gain. Before the rebellion, it was more a struggle, Before the rebellion, I received a letter of reprimand from my superiors because for the first time in five years I missed a department committee meeting. Where was I, I was downtown negotiating jobs for 15 citizens of Nickerson Gardens with Joseph Shuldiner, the CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles. "Listen" said my superior: "Your first priority is to go to my meetings, not to be at Nickerson." One other time I was 35 minutes late to a meeting because I was with Professors Herbert Medina and Professor Judith White negotiating the foundations of the tutoring program. Another time I narrowly escaped a reprimand while at a meeting at Nickerson Gardens with Professors Victoria Graf and Mr. Kevin O'Conner of our Learning Resources Center. You do not build bridges without paying a price. But, what price does building a bridge cost? Our campus Graphics printed 5,000 brochures, twice now at half cost and I did put the other half on the budget of the research journal I edit. And, I have been called on the carpet and told, even though you have teacher of the year four years in a row and even though you publish in Administrative Science Quarterly, edit LMU's only Research Journal, except for Dr. Jabbra, you have got to be at every committee college-wide, department-wide, and university-wide committee meeting or face reprimand and the threat of loss of merit pay. Does community service count toward university service at LMU? Opinions vary. But, one thing is clear, building any bridge is a struggle. Is ivory tower maintenance more important than venturing across the great canyon to extend the hand of welcome to the other side? I say keep your merit pay. It is small price to pay.
This is a narrow bridge. Only a few of the 2,500 children will get tutored. Only a handful of the 2,500 adults will cross this footbridge and get a job.
We are rapidly becoming a country with a Grand Canyon between the haves and the have-nots. But, as the canyon widens, the have will also fall into this pit! We can parachute gifts into the canyon, sit inside the tower and pretend ours is a safe place, or we can build a bridge, even a very, very small bridge to the other side.