In an article published on August 2nd, the LA Times highlighted leaders who urged Watts residents to avoid large gatherings for the rest of 2023 to prevent shootings like those that recently occurred near Imperial Courts and Jordan Downs.
While residents and leaders should be dismayed by violence in our communities, the Macedonia Community Development Corporation (MCDC) firmly believes in addressing the root causes to create long-term solutions. Imposing lockdowns or guidance to avoid public gathering further places our communities at risk.
As a vibrant community pushing for economic prosperity that has consistently been absent in Watts, we are a proud community that works together, that comes together to worship, to connect, and to elevate each other.
As the pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church, home to MCDC, I lead with an unwavering commitment to spiritually and economically serving those who call this cultural gem “home.” We distribute food to the hungry, shelter for the homeless, and provide access to diverse programs to improve our educational system, our workforce, and our small businesses.
Not congregating does not solve our problem. Instead of isolating a community that lacks resources, we will continue to provide opportunities for economic growth. To help Watts residents escape generational poverty, we boldly facilitate a community-based economic development program that emphasizes entrepreneurship to create generational wealth.
When our small businesses thrive, our community thrives. Entrepreneurs generate revenue that stays in the community — spent here, in Watts. Watts business owners hire people who live here, who spend their wages here, whose kids go to school here.
MCDC creates opportunities for mothers, fathers, young people, and more to pursue entrepreneurship to generate wealth. When we elevate each other by supporting our local virtuous economic cycles, violence declines. When we support the thousands of existing and aspiring entrepreneurs in Watts, we immediately reduce incidents of violence.
Quarantining our community solves nothing. Instead, we must address our community’s mental health crisis that will only improve through comprehensive resources. Prevention and early intervention reduce suffering and ameliorate the crisis.
We remove the stigma. We mobilize to bring discussions about mental health to our homes, work, and places of worship to dismantle generations of trauma.
We don’t need short-term solutions to this crisis. Band aids, quick speeches, or social media charity accomplish little. What we need is to continue our long-term commitment to lasting economic and social change.
Entrepreneurship is a community leadership opportunity. The people of Watts deserve peace and prosperity and that happens when we are intentional about lifting people out of marginalization.
For those interested in helping, talk to us. Ask us what we’re doing. Allow us to highlight the Watts Business Accelerator or the Microloan Fund scheduled to launch later this year.
Ask how you can support these strategies for quantitative change. Ask about our mental health strategies to recognize early signs and mobilize the resources to help.
Hiding does nothing. There is power in congregating — a power that leads to the self-sufficient and bustling communities that we deserve.
The Rev. Dr. Shane B. Scott is the senior pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church and president/CEO of the Macedonia Community Development Corporation.