Take away the poverty, unemployment, lack of property ownership, liquor stores, police surveillance, violence, depression, political and economic invasions, and South Central Los Angeles can be a fulling location to reside in. The location is arguably perfect in my opinion; minutes away from the Pacific Ocean, Staples Center; Hollywood, live entertainment, historical venues, warm weather, and multiculturalism. Inglewood as of now is a majority Black and Brown city (look it up). But Black and Brown populations may be facing an increase in the cost of living, simply because of monetary gain.
Gentrification is the process of displacing a certain group of people, which, then, is replaced by another exclusive group. Some Black people are slowly being pushed out of Inglewood due to increasing rents. So why is rent increasing? The Rams stadium, located in Inglewood, will be one of the city’s largest investments in history. It is guaranteed to be the next world attraction in the coming decade. This attraction will flip money for investors and the City of Inglewood. This is the reason property owners have increased rents. Wealthy businessman seek to capitalize on this entertainment project while displacing certain populations to make room for other populations. The thesis: Black and Brown people in Inglewood should work as a collective to conglomerate their capital and resources. We should be motivated to hu$$le accordingly to capitalize on profits in our own community.
Two organizations once dedicated to Black nationalism, have now succumbed to poverty, violence, and racial profiling within its community for more than 45 years. Community Revolution In Progress is a blue collective. Brotherly Love Overcomes Oppression and Destruction is a red collective. The founding agenda of these organizations, first located in South Central Los Angeles, has been tranquilized by political oppression and infiltration. The political oppression of external and internal forces has deteriorated these South Central organizations. Today, these two organizations seem to have forgotten their founding agenda. The socioeconomic agenda no longer pertains to benefiting the people of South Central.
The south central part of Los Angeles, where these organizations reside, has produced more “crimes”, racial profiling, political infiltration, and violence than any other section in LA. Three generations of South Central residents have been exposed to heinous activities, including drug infiltration, criminal defense policies, and community violence. Now, the question for these organizations, and South Central community members, is what is the socioeconomic agenda for South Central Los Angeles in the next decade? 2020-2030. Do you want to own the institutions in your community?
20th Century History of South Central and White Flight
Most political scientists writing about South Central Los Angeles would have to compile a great deal of research to identify the history of this community in the 20th century. Luckily for me, I was raised by a mother who was born and raised from South Central LA, specifically East Inglewood. My mother, Stephanie, was born in the early ‘60s at UCLA Medical Center. Raised by two Southern parents, my mother and grandparents resided in a South Central community called Manchester Square, where they were first neighbored next to White neighbors in the 1960s. According to my grandmother, because Jim Crow was still in affect nationwide, Los Angeles banks were legally and willingly able to discriminate against homebuyers based on race, or as banks call “risky” loans, regardless of loaner’s income level. This eventually formulated the redlining of South Central, which was arguably the only section of Los Angeles Blacks were approved to buy homes before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. My grandparents, therefore, decided that buying a home in South Central was better than moving back to the South.
Stories from my grandparents, mother, father, and auntie regarding South Central are historical, and some of it unpleasant. United States’ southern states, according to my grandmother, were still lynching Blacks in the late 1950s. My grandma mentioned that southern Blacks migrated to Los Angeles; some were from Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. My grandmother, from Louisiana, migrated to Los Angeles in the late ‘50s. Although California was not as violent, grandma informed me that the state was still traditionally discriminative against Blacks. “White Only” signs were still present in restaurants and bathrooms; Black would have to work in the back kitchen of most restaurants; and police were increasing the surveillance of incoming Black population in the 1960s.
The Watts Riot occurred in 1965. Some argue the riot was instigated because of police brutality towards South Central residents. My grandparents believed the LAPD has been racist for a long time.
There is a story told by my mother regarding the Los Angeles “White Flight” in the 1970s. When my mom was a child, there was an older white lady she specifically remembers living on her block. This white neighbor said something to my mother that spoke to the fear that initiated white flight within the South Central community. A few days before Halloween, the neighbor told my mother and her friends “don’t come to the house too late on Halloween, the door will be locked when it gets dark.” This may seem normal, but under these circumstances, her comment reflected on the fear of Whites losing their South Central neighborhood during the early 1970s.
White neighbors were fearful about the racial transformation that was occurring in their neighborhood. Not too mention, Blacks ignited multiple riots in the community due to police brutality, and the death of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. These events lead to the action of South Central White Flight — the occurrence of White residents moving out of the inner-city to north western suburban neighborhoods. My mother states that by the mid-‘70s, South Central Los Angeles was a majority-Black community. The neighbor that spoke to my mother moved from that street a year or two after speaking to her that Halloween.
My mom’s White neighbor and other Caucasian community members recognized that the Black population was increasing in South Central neighborhoods. The elimination of Jim Crow in 1964, abolished housing discrimination by race, essentially. This drove many more Black southerners to migrate to Southern California. Economic opportunities would draw blue-collared workers to South Central. This truly and honestly made some White residents in South Central uncomfortable because of racial friction in the ‘60s. Whites never wanted to leave South Central, but found the suburbs more pleasant and Black-free.
To support my family’s claims of racist activity in Los Angeles, check this information dating back to the year 1927, “In Inglewood, California, a city in Los Angeles County, Klansman raided an alleged bootlegging operation run by Basque immigrants Fidel and Angela Elduayan. Two hundred Klansman first blocked off the surrounding streets, then moved in; they tied up and beat the couple and destroyed their furniture…In California’s great agricultural valleys, the Klan murdered Mexican American farmworkers and tried to force the “wetbacks” out…It was already the case that law officers were often Klan members. Uniformed law officers, who frequently paraded with Klansmen, often allowed Klan vigilantes to serve as formal or informal deputies.” (Gordon, Linda. 2017. pg 102-03). Given these FACTS, would this support the reasonings to form the Crip and Blood organizations in the late ‘60s?
The Formulation of Crips and Bloods
During the same time period of white flight, Black revolutionary movements were in full effect. The Northern California Black Nationalist group, The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was nationwide, and beginning to gain support worldwide. This faction was stated to be dangerous to the neoliberal capitalist system. The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, and local government police departments, discredited, distorted, and disturbed, the efforts made by the Black Panthers. An agenda known as COINTELPRO was initiated by FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, “to destroy the Black Messiah, and any Black Nationalist Party.” (Hass, Jeff. pg. 143) This FBI machination did not, and has not, failed thus far. By the mid-’70s, the Black Panther Party lost thousands of members, along with its leadership. Before the elimination of the BPP organization, they held offices in Los Angeles, specifically in Watts and Compton. Revolutionaries may had been eliminated during the civil rights era, but the revolution never died; at least not in Los Angeles.
Today, the national media would inform listeners that the Crips and Bloods are violent organizations; and this is partially true. Albeit the reality is the Crips and Bloods were initiated in Los Angeles to be Black revolutionary movements to protect the community from police brutality in the late-‘60s. The media does not mention this, but I fortunately have evidence to support the Crips and Bloods original efforts to support Blacks residing in South Central communities. This evidence is once again, my mother. She specifically recalls the Crips and Bloods efforts to protect the community. Numerous group members, wearing blue attire, would inform her when she was just an adolescent, “if anybody ever messes with you, you let us know and we will handle it.” These specific members were know as the 8-Tray Crips, located in Manchester Square. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) continued to harass Black community members in the early ‘70s. Police harassment is what ignited the Watts Riot in 1965. Crip and Blood members originally protected children and adults from government malfeasance and community wrongdoing.
Corruption and Destruction in South Central
Unfortunately, the positive, founding identity of the red and blue organizations were short-lived. Turmoil would continue to occur in South Central in the late ‘70s. Police brutality was no longer the most oppressing factor in the community. Deindustrialization occurred within South Central in the mid-‘70s. Multiple blue-collard factories would close down in the ‘70s and ‘80s. My grandmother specifically remembers Goodyear, an auto maker company, closing down in South Central along side other factories. Incoming Black laborers were dependent on blue-collared work because they lacked the traditional collegiate education necessary for white-collard positions. And of course employment discrimination within white-collard professions was apparent. But during this time period, most Blacks were equipped with trade skills, not management and administrative skills. The consequences of deindustrialization in South Central were unemployment, poverty, and eventually community violence. Crip and Blood members, along with other South Central residents, were no longer capable of financially supporting their families. By the start of the ‘80s, there was a new illegal occupation that grew in South Central.
By the year 1980, South Central was infiltrated with drugs. The manufactured form of cocaine, known as crack-cocaine, was infiltrated by government agencies. (Potash, John. pg. 45). Close relatives of mine have been personally affected by this addictive drug infiltrating around South Central. This drug arguably has single-handedly destroyed a generation in South Central, and possibly succeeding generations. During the Reagan era, high rates of unemployment amongst Black Americans were at a record-high (read my post about Ronald Reagan). Most Black people in the country within this decade were either unemployed or underemployed. South Central adults were out of work, poor, and could no longer provide for their families. This forced the second generation of Crips and Bloods to reconfigure its intentions of protecting the community to surviving in the community, due to the fact that their community was increasingly impoverished.
In the ‘80s, the objective and motive of the Crips and Bloods completely changed due to their socioeconomic status. Instead of protecting the community, these groups were protecting their ‘turf’ or street corners to earn income. The drug dealer occupation was one of the few jobs available to earn a living and feed families. During this time, the two organizations were now rivals to claim territory in order to make a profit. As stated by both my mother, father, and auntie, the ‘80s was a violent time period in South Central between the Crips and Bloods. The nonviolent and violent activity occurring in South Central made way to a new form of political oppression.
Author Michelle Alexander, in her book The New Jim Crow, describes the racially, systematic agenda configured by U.S. presidents and their Defense departments. Alexander’s book informs her audience about the policies and practices some U.S. government officials formulated to harass, detain, arrest, and enslave Black and Brown populations. The prison-industrial complex had become the new form of second-class citizenship for Black and Brown minorities. Mass incarceration, nationwide, has been the instrument used to politically destroy multiple Black and Brown communities, with South Central Los Angeles being one of the neighborhoods victimized. Nonviolent drug offenses were considered felony and stripped Americans, predominately Black and Brown, of the civil rights that were granted to them by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Nonviolent felons could no longer vote, receive welfare, student loans for college, or public housing.
It is fair to say that most individuals within the Crips and Bloods organizations ended up either dead or in jail. The 2nd generation of Black L.A. gangs, as well as South Central community members, experienced the destruction of violence, drugs, and mass incarceration in the community. My Auntie Tonya, was born in 1971, and experienced South Central at a time when it was most violent and drug-infested. Through the 80s to mid-‘90s, my auntie experienced South Central at arguably its most depleting time period. She confesses that most Black people in South Central had to hustle or steal to gain money. Job obtainment during the Reagan era was difficult for Black Americans. Auntie Tonya believes half of the community’s young adults were either selling or abusing drugs during this time period. She describes some gangbangers as ‘no good’ for the community at this time. A drive-by was common in the neighborhood. The lack of economic resources and opportunities for community members in South Central detoured young adults to survive by any means necessary within a federally-infiltrated ghetto.
Government machinations were legislated to destroy Black families within L.A. State and federal defense policies increased the number of inmates within the U.S. prison system, as well as Black and Brown fatherless homes. Both my mother and father met during this violent time period in L.A. They both observed the destruction South Central was going through. More importantly, they understood that my older siblings and I could not grow up productively in a community ridden with violence and drugs. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of kids and families in South Central did not have the financial capability to escape the hood during this time period.
In the ’80 and ’90, the Los Angeles Unified School District failed to provide South Central students with relevant and effective curricula to combat the unique problems confronting Black and Brown students. Public school curricula did not adapt their lessons to students’ socioeconomic circumstances. Curricula did not embed relevant material that would develop students’ mental and emotional stability. In other words, the school system did not do enough academically or personally to secure South Central students with a self-sufficient and productive future, given the community’s current depressive circumstances. From some personal conversations, Black South Central youth in the last 30 years have had to face fatherless homes, violent neighborhoods, racial profiling, police brutality, alcoholism, drug abuse, and a list of other shit. Ultimately, the repercussions of a failing school system has instigated dependency and depression amongst today’s South Central residents.
Thousands of South Central teens will continue to join L.A. gangs. Curricular reform is to be constructed in the later years of elementary school, to equip today’s students with a full understanding of who the Crips and Bloods are, and the organizations’ original motives and purpose. With this solid understanding of their community and their ancestors, South Central youth can use this knowledge to develop political and economic organization. Or in turn, quarantine community grounds from foreign invaders, while learning to be self-sufficient to earn money. Social Science curricula should be reformed in majority-black public schools to presented South Central students with a better historical understanding of why they personally experience traumatizing events in their community. History is just one piece of curricula reform needed to change the circumstances in South Central, but isn’t history a great start?
Gordon, Linda. The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition. Liveright. New York. 2017.
Haas, Jeffery. The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther. Lawrence Hill Books. Chicago. 2010.
History Dot Com Editors. Watts Riots. History. 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/1960s/watts-riots
Potash, John. The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders: U.S. Intelligence Murderous Targeting of Tupac, MLK, Malcolm, Panthers, Hendrix, Marley, Rappers & Linked Ethnic Leftist. Progressive Left Press. Baltimore. 2007.
Mapping the Black Panther Party in Key Cities. University of Washington. 2015. https://depts.washington.edu/moves/BPP_map-cities.shtml
Brown, Gary. Los Angeles Gangs: The Bloods and the Crips. Socialist Alternative. 2019. https://www.socialistalternative.org/panther-black-rebellion/los-angeles-gangs-bloods-crips/