“Where there is desire There is gonna be a flame Where there is a flame Someone’s bound to get burned But just because it burns Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die You’ve gotta get up and try try try Gotta get up and try try try” – Pink
Defined by the legendary Grant High School Football Team, Del Paso Heights, in the eyes of the outlying community, has always been a one-trick-pony. Even if it were true, that one trick brought the epicenter of California’s expansive valley, sprawling from Bakersfield in the south to Redding in the north – a 439 mile drive, through a gauntlet of communities – its first, highly-coveted State Football Crown.
The region’s most respected daily, The Sacramento Bee, has been a stalwart of support, but refuses to abandon its half-century old practice of covering a positive story within DPH, only to interject enough unnecessary, venomous words, as if to subliminally remind outliers, regardless of the subject matter, it is just a ‘gritty’ neighborhood. Even when the story being covered is about a visit from the President of the University of California – speaking on campus of DPH’s only high school – to brilliant, promising students, or about a grassroots coalition, transformed into a political army, assuring DPH a voice within the city’s leadership circle, and input about the future of Sacramento, the valley’s award-winning, blue-state leaning, only Sacramento daily, is always there to provide fair and unbiased coverage, but does so with ever so slight, subliminal but damaging spin. For the insiders, words like ‘gritty’ is all we remember and all the outliers hear.
Big names have been born here. Unknowns have died here. Hit hard, but survived the eruption of black-on-black violence, detonated by the crack epidemic of the mid eighties, that gutted communities in Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.; overwhelmed but not demolished by the great floods of ’86, Del Paso Heights has survived it all, with our dignity and self-esteem intact.
With so much talent, love and support, one question deserves consideration: Why have we been unable to hit a home run? The relocation of the Urban League, into a world-class architectural structure, was suppose to turn the tables, becoming a gateway to a bustling district of commerce, jobs and entertainment. Yet years later, two abandoned lots make a mockery of that plan. Why the absence of Olympians or ring-holders when, through the years, DPH has given flight to the strongest, fastest, greatest athletes in a region. Why no honored intellects advising the President, music producers on Pepsi commercials or authors on the New York Times bestsellers list when our talent matches – or surpasses – those who have, deservedly, achieved?
A continual flow of top-recruits that have emerged from DPH, in sports, music, arts, business and academia has produced mid-level results, but nothing to match the expectations of a community deserving to have them filled.
Some return broken, suffocated by the complexity of life outside a familiar neighborhood. Some have returned armed with more knowledge, wealth and experience. Some never left, finding their successes or distractions here. One has emerged as a citywide leader in business and politics. Some permanently departed, with unfulfilled missions, leaving memories and tears, shed only here. All return to a place, that has remained structurally unchanged, but more demographically diverse. With thankfully few exceptions, all are welcomed back into the embrace of a community that loves them and we love back.
Over the next year, we will offer a closer view of where we are, who we are, and why – win or lose – we are proud to be from a community, where even when we get burned, we get up and try try try. And some day, one of those tries, by one of us, will succeed in making sure…the world knows our name.
Much love, respect and expectations from –
Kendall F. Person, 4Life