When Whites Return to the Black Neighborhoods They Fled

Los Angeles Times op-ed writer Erin Aubry Kaplan shares her feelings upon seeing whites return to Inglewood, California half a century after they fled. One consistent theme emerges: "Whatever black people have can be taken away."
November 29, 2017, 1pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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Gabriele Maltinti

"Gentrification is big news all over L.A., and working-class and lower-income people across the county stand to lose a lot from its advance," writes Erin Aubry Kaplan. "They already have. But black people in particular will feel the sting."

Kaplan, an African-American woman has lived "in and around" the city of Inglewood for the last 13 years. In this column, she traces the history of the city, incorporated 1908 in the South Bay region of Los Angeles County, beginning with the first blacks who moved there during the 1960s, causing the resentment of many whites, resulting in white flight. The city of 111,000 is predominantly Latino and African American

Speaking for blacks, she writes:

In lieu of economic wealth, we lay down roots, we build social cohesion out of the vacuum created by white flight, avoidance and indifference. Our neighborhoods are our strength, our visibility.

Leimert Park [a neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles] — a flashpoint of gentrification now — put Afrocentric culture on the map, literally, and has long been a hub of black civic and political organization. Inglewood isn’t Leimert Park, but it’s a significantly black city and distinct simply for that reason/

The pattern of shrinking black space is hardly new, by the way: Over the years, immigration and Latino growth remade traditionally black areas like South Central and Compton and Inglewood too. But today’s white influx feels particularly ominous, like the worst of our bad history looping back on itself.

Kaplan ends by writing that she doesn't see the return of whites to Compton as a welcomed sign of integration but as a "warning" that gentrification is encroaching, and displacement not far behind.

Hat tip to Julie Bloom of New York Times/California Today.

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Published on Sunday, November 26, 2017 in Los Angeles Times
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