Op-Ed: D.A. Gascón: Yes, I’m ‘with the Blacks’
It was not that long ago when a group of black activists and community leaders joined forces and marched in the streets in protest of the decision to build a luxury residential tower across from Los Angeles Police Department headquarters in East L.A. Now, we no longer walk the streets of Los Angeles and march alongside our allies, and I’m sad to say that my role in “the battle for Black South Los Angeles” is fading. The question is, should we be sad about this or should we be happy?
My story, as it has been told to me by others, is that the neighborhood in question is a “community of color” or that “the neighborhood is a community of color.” After a series of discussions with people in the community who are not white, I have come to understand that “the neighborhood is a community of color” is the true and correct characterization of South Los Angeles. The area is not only diverse in the sense that there are black people and whites living in the neighborhood; it is also economically diverse. Over 60 percent of its residents are below the poverty line and nearly 25 percent of the population is people of color. The majority of the people I’m meeting are African American.
As I’ve shared my personal story, I’ve also learned that there is another, more complicated, and less widely-distributed set of stories about what is happening in South Los Angeles. This group includes those who have a different relationship to the area than mine and many of my friends. These stories have been relayed orally to me by friends and by friends’ friends, who are themselves people of color and live in South Los Angeles or who are people of color who live in South Los Angeles. These are stories about “the neighborhood.”
I find this perspective to be helpful as I try to understand the context and struggles of what is happening now in this city