south central: things have changed


“South-Central” was more than just a vague place name; it was vernacular. It was a shape-shifter; it was quick and wily; it had legs. It moved east. It moved west, north. For a long time, it was code for wherever it was in the city that black people kept their houses, conducted their business, kicked up their mess—where they happened to pop into frame. I will never forget returning home late one night, tired and despondent after reporting on the ’92 “civil unrest”/”uprisings”/”riots”/”insurrection” (like everyone else, I was searching for something precise, something to call not just the chaos but the rage), and tuning in to a TV reporter doing a stand-up at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, right in front of the May Co. department store. All my life I knew this intersection to be in the Miracle Mile, yet the graphic marked the spot: “South-Central L.A.”

“South-Central” was “down there”—a wave of the hand, south of Olympic, certainly south of the 10 Freeway. Someplace many Angelenos didn’t venture into because, well, what was really there?

more from the West Magazine here.