Do we need a new vision and plan for the 99% ?
Over the course of the last several months, I have been really wrestling with how to change the existing paradigm in the world I live. This has forced me to reflect on what it means to live in the center of enormous wealth and to be fundamentally excluded from participation or forced to participate inadequately.
Recently, I asked, "What would make Facebook a good neighbor?" I think that I should try to answer this question before people think I am just another brother looking for a hand out. If Facebook wants to be a good neighbor and a good friend to the people of East Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, we should ask them to join us in opposing the construction of the San Mateo County Jail. Help us bring into existence a new vision about our future and commit with us to the development and education of our children instead of to their future incarceration.
If jail and prison construction plans are predicated on students failing in the third grade, then let us consider doing something different. Let our new neighbor and our potential best friend demand that San Mateo County not build a jail. We ask Facebook to put $150 million dollars into a community fund and to challenge San Mateo County to match its commitment with the proposed $150 million slated for the construction of a new jail and the forty million a year in maintenance cost.
Use the $300 million instead to educate the children, support our elderly, advance social justice in the most marginalized areas of San Mateo County and use 40 million for the maintenance of people. Let us make sure that people in the marginalized areas are not losing their homes to foreclosures and can wither the storm of gentrification. We ask our new neighbor to commit itself to advancing a different vision of public safety.
There should not be poor schools located in the same community as corporations that act as the economic engines for the country and possibly for the world. It is shear madness to think that in the middle of Silicon Valley, where the silicon chip is king, that we have elementary schools that lack advanced technology and high school students from East Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, who are not inspired to make it through high school.
There is much too much wealth in this area for education not to be exciting and for our children's future not to be bright. As a society we must insist that our goodwill go into the development of more than second-class citizens and second-class competitors.
I have said repeatedly over the course of the last several months that if we continue to sit silently by, we will continue to get what we are being served. Our current vision will not advance the interest of our children in East Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, nor will society in general benefit from our greatest contribution to it: our children.
We must ask and then answer the question: What is appropriate corporate responsibility when it comes to the marginalized communities of color like ours? If we don’t answer this question, then we will be forced to continue to accept handouts instead of envisioning a future based on hope and justice. We need a vision where everyone is ultimately capable and willing to contribute the kind of stuff that lifts the entire ship rather than just a few boats. We need the kind of lift that truly makes countries great.
I challenge the community to look around. I hope you can see that we are surrounded by some of the largest and most profitable multi-national corporations in the world and yet our vision doesn’t allow us to ask for the support that we need or to make genuine progress. I am suggesting that Facebook has to do better by our community, and I am also suggesting that we have to find a vision and the leadership to speak to the common interest of the East of Bayshore community.
I am absolutely aware that good friends don’t come by everyday, but everyday, I look for another friend.
Dorsey Nunn is the executive director of the San Francisco based organization Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. He has been one of the facilitators of the ongoing community meetings regarding Facebook that have been taking place in Menlo Park. To contact him through East Palo Alto Today, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.