Flight from gang violence proved to be futileAs I listened to her mother speak, I just wanted to scream. Her mom moved the family to Harbor Gateway a few years ago to escape gang violence in West L.A.
Residents of a mostly black Harbor Gateway area say they live in fear of a Latino gang. A girl was slain Dec. 15 in an apparent hate crime.
One of the reasons I moved to Los Angeles was because of its mix of people. It’s one of the reasons I like it here. I like it that I am not swimming in a sea of sameness as I go about my daily life. Since I grew up with a mix of people both in my family and in my community, I feel more comfortable with a blend.
In recent years, however, I’ve noticed some disturbing trends. You may have heard of the tensions between black and Latino students in the public high schools in L.A. There have been racially motivated brawls in some local schools; police have had to come out to quell the violence and schools have even been placed on temporary lockdown to restore order. Sweet Dub and I have talked about it at length, and as a graduate of a Los Angeles public high school, he’s mystified by it: “We never had trouble like that,” he says. “We all hung out, blacks, Mexicans, whatever.”
I also know that there is a perception among some black folks that undocumented Latino immigrants “steal” jobs from the black working class because they’ll work for less money. And I had heard on the news that a Latino gang in northeast L.A. – in the Glassell Park and Highland Park areas -- was also targeting black people (“They Wanted All Blacks Out,” L.A. Weekly, July 26, 2006). And now they’re killing black children.
Well, shit. I’m not ashamed to say I cried a little on the way home. In Harbor Gateway, they’re applying for a gang injunction, and evidently they’ve also reached a gang cease-fire agreement. For the moment. Officials are working on “making improvements to the neighborhood,” whatever that means.
What does it mean for my city? What does it mean for my family? I’m disheartened and scared by it. What can I do in my small way, in my small corner of Los Angeles, about something so big?
As I was just typing that, and feeling heavy-hearted, one of my co-worker friends just danced goofily by my office doorway. I burst out laughing. Laughter helps.
More later, when I figure out how to solve this complex problem in my spare moments between writing marketing materials here. It'll take me a minute.