During his State of the City speech last week, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said, “All neighborhoods should reap the benefits of San Diego’s success.”

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But several days later, I’m still wondering whether southeastern San Diego’s District 8 was included.

If Faulconer wants to bring growth, opportunities, more jobs and prosperity to southeastern San Diego, he must reach out to those of us in Barrio Logan, Grant Hill, San Ysidro and the surrounding communities of District 8. He must address the underlying factors that have caused a systemic breakdown in our communities. We have been marginalized, over-policed, stigmatized and traumatized by policies written to protect our community, which have instead criminalized it, leading to mass incarceration and social injustice.

These institutional failures resulted in breakdowns in the home, where too many fathers are sent to prison and unable to rebuild their lives when they get out; in schools, where lacks of funding and parental involvement are drowning our children; and community and religious organizations, which also lack funding and the capacity to meet residents’ needs.

I did not hear the mayor address these underlying factors that are plaguing our community. If these institutional failures are not fixed, southeastern San Diego will not reap the benefits of the city’s success.

Faulconer must understand that to bring prosperity to our communities, we must be allowed to be part of the planning, development and decision-making. For far too long, southeastern San Diego has been treated like an outsider begging for crumbs.

Faulconer must help change the climate in southeastern San Diego. We’re more than just District 4.

I thank our mayor for reaching out to some of the communities in southeastern San Diego, especially since voters in our districts overwhelmingly backed Councilman David Alvarez in last year’s special mayoral election.

Nevertheless, Faulconer must reach deeper. He must demonstrate he can lead a wounded and oppressed community out of fragmented systems into a healthy and thriving community with a sustainable sense of well-being. He must work to include us in San Diego’s success story.

Our communities need quality service in public safety and health. We need youth centers with quality health and wellness programs, outlets for the arts and creative expression, affordable housing, youth leadership development and civic engagement.

We invite the mayor into our community so we can have a discussion about the lack of attention District 8 has received. Our community has been neglected for too long. The whole structure needs to be torn down and rebuilt. Only then can we begin to talk about southeastern San Diego neighborhoods reaping the benefits of San Diego’s success.

Cornelius Bowser Sr. is bishop at Charity Apostolic Church in southeastern San Diego. Bowser’s note has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here

Catherine Green was formerly the deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handled daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects.

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