I was born in Dominguez Valley Hospital many decades ago. 91 Freeway and Artesia. South L.A. county. Compton. It’s gone now. I think it was replaced by a machine factory. It could have been replaced by worse. Knowing the Compton-Watts-Long Beach corridor I’m grateful (surprised) a swap meet doesn’t sit in the lot where I came into the world.
A few hospitals have closed in south Los Angeles. King Drew was shuttered because it kept killing people. Dominguez Valley Hospital closed because all of the poor people it served couldn’t afford to pay for medical care.
The irony in that prior sentence is the best way for anyone to understand what it’s like to live in or be from a place like Compton.
Compton once represented the path to freedom and prosperity for a generation of the black Ozarks — the ArkLaHoma and east Texas part of the black Diaspora who sought economic and social refuge in the Naval yards and oil fields of south Los Angeles county. A whole bunch of poor, somewhat educated black southerners congregated in Compton and thought their collective weight would anchor a golden generation of the New Black American. The generation that fled mindless violence, economic deprivation, and sub-standard education sired children who many times died in a hail of bullets while stuck in an economically deprived community served by sub-standard schools.
Very few of those who stayed “made it”. Black Flight is just as real as White Flight. If you live in Compton now English is probably not your first (or only) language. The black people are gone. The institutions have closed. All that’s left of black Compton is a legacy class of black politicians serving themselves at the public trough in the few years they have left in office before they are replaced by politicians who actually represent the immigrant class that now inhabits south L.A.
The immigrant story in America is one group replaces another as the first group moves up and out. For blacks my age the order was out then up. The move was typically in stages. Your family moved away. (anywhere — just so long as it was away) You frequently went back to visit family and friends. Then a choice had to be made. A hard break had to occur if you were really going to “go for yours”. You told yourself you could always go back after you made it and everyone would admire your success.
Then the stores closed.
Then the local businesses moved away.
Then the people starting dying.
After a while there was no trace of the place you remembered.
Even the hospital where you were born was bulldozed.
There are quite a few black professionals from Compton. It’s just that a whole bunch of us live in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma now. I was part of an impromptu Compton-Watts-Long Beach reunion of about 30 people this past spring. We all (at the time) lived in Texas or Louisiana. In part, that day and evening inspired the creation of this blog. We all sat and reflected on how we ended up in the places our grandparents risked everything to escape.
This blog is here to talk about some of what happened — not just to Compton but to much of black America. Not every post but probably quite a few will concern a cynical and venal black elite that was/is much more invested in running it’s well educated mouth about how everything wrong with black America is the white man’s fault rather than with caring for the institutions and people it claims to represent.
I’ve worked extremely long hours for years so my children would never have to live in Compton. There’s something sad about that.
Thank you for visiting the Dominguez Valley Hospital blog. I’ll try to keep it open as long as possible.