2020 has been the most challenging year of our lives. It has been a year of change and transformation for all of us. No matter who you are or where you come from, this year is demanding that we feel something.
I remember gasping for breath on the 30th of January 2020 when I learned that we lost our dear heroes Kobe and Gianna Bryant.
I remember craving a hug when I was ordered to stay at home with my family due to the fear of a contagious virus that was sweeping the globe. I remember not being able to smell the warm spring air, the first flowers in bloom, and the salty ocean mist that would cleanse my life force, as I had to cover my nose and mouth with a mask to not only protect myself but to protect others from the risk of losing their ability to breathe.
I remember when my blood boiled in my veins and started to overflow in rage and anger as the world witnessed the brutality of black bodies being disregarded in death like the daily trash that we throw away. “I can’t breathe,” the deep, painful plea of George Floyd in his final moments drift in my head during the day and become nightmares as I try to rest in the evening hours. Those thoughts extend to Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and the countless others who we lost due to police incompetence.
I remember the black skies of California, Oregon, and Washington, as our lands burned in chaos in ways that we have never seen before. I thought of the breath of ash that enters the innocent, our young people and their future, as enlightened ones like Greta Thunberg fiercely stand up to the powers that be, quietly screaming enough is enough.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced,” said the late, great novelist, poet, and activist James Baldwin. These powerful words speak to what we all need to do as we experience the wrath of 2020, a year where we are learning the true value of breathing, life, and the interconnectedness of humanity.
We are Compound. A creative and cultural space envisioned to transcend the challenges that we face today by simply connecting with each other through contemporary art, wellness, and community. Anchored in Long Beach, California, we hope that amongst our shared difficulties, we can provide a sanctuary of healing, solidarity, connection, and humanism to support our community and beyond.
Our call to action is to share Radical Empathy in our art, in our programming, and in our community. We must be aware and mindful of who we are as human beings and what we can become as we navigate these troubled times. The best way to do that is to realize that we are all one. We need empathy and compassion to be the guiding light, not just for our fellow neighbors, but for our fellow Americans and global citizens abroad. We know that hope is alive and well as change unfolds … just like in the eye of the hurricane, there is peace and quiet.
So, as we move closer to closing out this year, let’s take a deep breath and reignite the values that bring us closer together rather than further apart.
I remember the true American spirit as being passionate about freedom and justice. About the journey of learning to celebrate our differences and connecting on the content of our character. About seeing every human as truly equal, no matter our cultural backgrounds or lifestyle choices. About using our voices for positive change. About breathing. About life. About our children. About love.
Join us as a force for good as we open Compound in fall of 2020, and let’s be the change we wish to see.