Watching a Community Changed by Immigration: With African Americans Being Displaced by Latinos, News Coverage of South Central Los Angeles Is Inflaming Tensions, Not Informing People

By Sloan, Lester | Nieman Reports, Fall 2006 | Go to article overview

Watching a Community Changed by Immigration: With African Americans Being Displaced by Latinos, News Coverage of South Central Los Angeles Is Inflaming Tensions, Not Informing People


Sloan, Lester, Nieman Reports


The 11th annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival in South Los Angeles got off to a smooth start as residents and nonresidents alike found a spot of shade, a patch of green or common shelter under the tent, directly across the street from the historic Dunbar Hotel. Central Avenue was the heart and soul of African-American music and entertainment from the 1920's until the late '50's, attracting white Hollywood to the Club Alabam and other after-hour joints that saw as much of Mae West as any of her leading men. On this hot July afternoon, the crowd reflected the city's much touted ethnic diversity. And there was enough fried chicken and fish, tacos and jambalaya to feed the multitudes.

The festival is an attempt to recapture some of this community's past glow and put a lasting signature on its neighborhoods that have experienced a demographic flip in a relatively short time--transitioning from being 80 percent African-American (and 20 percent Hispanic) to now having a Latino majority that is strengthening. During the festival's two days, the music reflects both an African-American and Latin culture. But for the remaining 363 days of the year, the community has a decisive Latino flavor.

Most of the businesses along Central Avenue, from barbershops to grocery stores and restaurants, reflect this demographic shift. The paper of record here is no longer the weekly Sentinel, a long-standing and influential African-American newspaper, nor the much newer daily Wave, but the Spanish-language La Opinion, along with Hoy, a free paper that the Tribune Company began publishing here recently in competition for Latino readers.

South Central, as the area is generally called, includes the communities of Watts and Compton, formerly African-American, now predominantly Latino. Sometimes this place is referred to as the "Ellis Island of the West" since many of its neighborhoods are end stations for immigrants not only from Mexico but also from all of Central America. To those arriving, this is the promised land of the North, and the travelers fill spaces left here by the post-1965 departure of African Americans (after the Watts riots or insurrection, depending on one's frame of reference), when families moved to communities like Baldwin Hills and Inglewood (or as some call it, "Inglewatts") and then later to places like Palmdale and the valley.

Of course, some African Americans still live and work in South Central. But with diminished numbers, many feel as though they are being pushed or shoved out of their community--or at least out of the life of what was once their community--by the influx of both legal and illegal immigrants. Even when African Americans were the majority population here, in Los Angeles their presence was never higher than 15 percent. So what mattered to them--and gave them both a sense of community and political engagement--was having this place that belonged to them.

Now these two minority groups each try to hold on to what they regard as theirs. The newcomers bring with them their businesses and cultural life, while those who have stayed behind long for a time when their shops and music and art were everywhere in evidence. Some might call what is happening a "turf war," but in reality it goes deeper than that. "South Central is one big melting pot," says Bobby Rodarte, a 30-year old Latino restaurant owner on Central Avenue. "You have everybody from everywhere. Blacks say we're invading them; we're not invading them. We're just picking up where they are leaving off. If we don't do it, the Koreans are going to come in."

Perceptions Hinder Reporting

From 1947 until the Rodney King riots in 1992, South Central has been studied, observed, sampled and poked at. In 1965 the McCone Commission's report offered recommendations regarding the news media--and the role they play too often in sharpening divisions and escalating tensions. But few (or none) of the recommendations appear to be heeded by many journalists today. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Watching a Community Changed by Immigration: With African Americans Being Displaced by Latinos, News Coverage of South Central Los Angeles Is Inflaming Tensions, Not Informing People
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.