Derrick Jensen’s interview with Luis Rodriguez [“Urban Renewal,” April 2000] was one of the most powerful your publication has printed for quite some time. For someone to come from the reality Rodriguez did and still hold to the side of compassion is a miracle in itself. We can all learn from his example.
This interview should be put into the hands of those who set social policies. Too often their programs worsen the problems they were created to eliminate.
Lately, my favorite part of The Sun has been the interviews with such humanists as Luis Rodriguez, Frances Moore Lappé [November 1999], and Samuel Epstein [March 2000]. The media landscape is nothing but a dry desert of consumerist notions, but The Sun publishes people who fire my imagination and restore my teetering faith in our innate goodness.
Thank you for acknowledging that capitalism isn’t everything. The Sun is a fragile glimmer of hope in an otherwise horrendous period of conspicuous consumption. All this abundance is, in fact, a phantom devised by rich white men who play with money instead of their children.
Although I do not have a point of reference for the gang lifestyle, I did appreciate Luis Rodriguez’s thoughts about community. [“Urban Renewal,” interview by Derrick Jensen, April 2000]. In times past, the community was a type of extended family. Somehow our society has grown away from that. Our neighbors are now strangers who are not to be trusted.
I believe that going back to the extended-family community would help many troubled youths. A community can give a lost or lonely person friends, respect, and a purpose; and, as a parent, I can always use another pair of eyes. That is not the way things are in most neighborhoods today. People pretend not to notice anyone other than their own family members. Sometimes we need to go backward in order to go forward.
Like Luis Rodriguez, I, too, was raised in East LA and moved to San Gabriel. He and I probably cruised right past one another in the early seventies. As a young woman, from junior high school on through high school, I was into gangs and fighting and drugs, and had little hope of any future. I got out, and I’m clean and sober now, too.
I want to thank Rodriguez for describing so articulately what it was like growing up in East LA — the system, the gangs, the drugs, the violence — and for getting out and sharing what he’s learned.