CALIFORNIA COMMENTARY : 'Through It...

Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat, represents Gardena, Inglewood, Hawthorne and parts of Los Angeles.

My dear children, my friends, my brothers, life is sometimes cold-blooded and rotten. And it seems nobody, nobody cares.

But there are the good times, the happy moments.

I'm talking about the special times when a baby is born and when gospel music sounds good on Sunday morning. When Cube is kickin' and Public Enemy is runnin' it. When peach cobbler and ice cream tastes too good, the down-home blues makes you sing and shout, and someone simply saying, "I love you" makes you want to cry.

All of these moments are about life and living. It is about us and who we are--our culture, our people, the good times and the bad times.

My brothers, my sisters, we are indeed special. The Lord did not bring us this far to leave us, so we must live! We have got to live, my children. We have yet to become the people we can be.

Yes, I know somebody is saying,

"What the ---- is she talking about? I don't have a job! I have been to the joint. I don't even have a place to live, and if I walk down the street or drive two blocks from home, I am going to be stopped by the cops."

Yes, I understand! Believe me, I understand! I have stood with you protesting against Daryl Gates. I have made trips again and again to the Police Commission to protest police brutality. I write letters to judges and even make appearances in court to try to ensure justice.

I created Project Build to connect our young people with jobs and job training. I worked hard to get us our vocational training center, and I created a special alternative school in Imperial Courts.

I fight daily to keep the "rip-off" private schools from tricking you into signing away your student loans and grants and then giving you nothing in the way of education.

We are getting more people into the Century Freeway Construction Training Program.

There are others fighting for you. Why do you think I supported Bill Clinton so early? I endorsed him because I want to be able to direct his attention to South-Central, to Watts, to the 'hood, to deal with joblessness and police abuse and discrimination by the banks and insurance companies, and, yes, with crime prevention.

This Rodney King thing is a mother!

It has gotten to all of us. The beating was savage. The cops were dead wrong but the Reginald Denny beating was wrong, too. The killing and the violence must stop. Too many have died already. You have got to live, not die! Life is too precious.

The news media want to whip us into a frenzy. Did you see the picture that USA Today had on its front page? Brothers with guns in their hands with a caption, "L.A. Uneasy." It was a bogus, set-up photograph. The brothers thought they were turning in their guns for jobs and thought the photo would help them. USA Today apologized for the photo and disciplined those involved.

Everywhere, journalists are asking, "Is there going to be another riot?" I think there are those who want to see death and destruction. Time out!

Let us work for justice. Let us keep our voices loud for the selection of representative juries and fair court proceedings.

Let us speak up. Let us get the ministers and politicians to speak up. Let us learn how to rally and protest. Let us read and keep up with the facts.

We must let the world know we are not going anywhere. This is our city and our community. We have got to make it right. We've got to build, not burn. We've got to live, not die.

To do this work, we have got to live. We cannot be killed nor can we kill. We cannot risk our lives nor the lives of others.

When the verdicts come down, there will be thousands of police, sheriffs and National Guard on the streets. If you take to the streets with a Molotov cocktail in hand, a gun in your belt or a brick ready to throw, you give the police the legal right to kill you.

Our anger and frustration must not drive us to the streets. We must use our minds and our God-given talents and our legacy of perseverance and struggle. We must fight our battles in the courtroom, and in the halls of power. We must organize and rally and protest. And, through it all, we will celebrate living-- not dying.

I wish we could make life better for everyone, today. I wish we all had

jobs, and happy, loving experiences each day of our lives. I wish we had peace of mind. And, if I could, I would give it to you.

Each day brings a new opportunity, a new possibility. I love you and will fight for you. I need you to stand with me to make this a better place. Let us get smart--it's time to chill!

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