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People of Color Communities Work Harder

VIEW FROM HERE - I think the headline on this article describes itself.  It came to me after attending a community organizing meeting around the MTA Crenshaw/LAX  Line.

The meeting was packed with various stakeholders from the community who had an interest in transportation and the looming fate of a MTA Board decision that will ultimately impact them.

Before I get into the details of this meeting and what’s at stake as it relates to the MTA Board. I want to hone in on one particular statement that I heard from one of the community members.   

Basically, the statement is that people of color and working class communities work harder to fight for reasonable and fair economic and community development justice than other communities.  

In essence, other communities, particularly the Westside, Beverly Hills, and some San Gabriel communities receive better responses to their concerns regardless of community activism based on economic class and race.

I can tell you that I felt the impact of that message.  

If you think about, what makes South Los Angeles any different than any other community that is working to change its landscape and bring the same level of economic and social opportunities to its residents?  Isn’t  South Los Angeles just as deserving to have pedestrian-friendly developments, restaurant and entertainment hubs, good schools and parks, libraries, and grocery store variety?

The answer to this question is a no brainer.  Yes!  

Yes, South Los Angeles is just as deserving and doesn’t need other people’s politics to stand in its way or keep the community a struggling one.

Social Impact did a study of South Los Angeles’ buying power.  They were able to ascertain that South Los Angeles has approximately $5.5 billion and that it could be possibly more.  Most of this buying power is spent outside the community in neighboring cities or other neighborhoods.  

Having this information at hand makes you think of Arsenio Hall and makes you go, “Hmm.”  I don’t know about you, but $5.5 billion is a whole lot of money and whole lot of power in my book so give South Los Angeles the same level of influence and leverage.

Now, let’s go back to the meeting.  The meeting was an update to the proposed Crenshaw/LAX Metro Rail Line.  

The community stakeholders received the latest updates and were told of an upcoming MTA Board Motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to add a scheduled stop in Leimert Park and to have an underground rail down Crenshaw between 48th and 59th street in the Park Mesa area.

The reason behind the two recommendations is to ensure that there is a stop in the iconic cultural Leimert Park Village and to prevent the obstruction of commerce for local businesses along the Crenshaw corridor due to prolonged construction. In addition, there are other safety issue concerns too for pedestrians and those driving vehicles.

Efforts to get Supervisor Thomas’ motion passed are no-holds-barred.  The community is inundating political representatives through petitions, op-ed pieces, faxes, letters, and rallies with its position on the matter and plan to pack the MTA board meeting on Friday, May 26th.

I will tell you.  The eyes of  South Los Angeles  are on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to see if he votes on behalf of the constituency who helped him defeat Hahn and put him into office.  He represents four votes on the board.  The others depending on where they plan to go in their careers will be on the community’s list too regarding any future support.

The South Los Angeles community is urging the MTA Board to vote in favor of the business owners and residents.  Voting in favor means erecting a stop in Leimert Park and abandoning plans for street level rail and going with underground tunneling.

The South Los Angeles community is mobilizing and engaging harder than most because it is not going to settle for less.  If other communities can bark about the Subway to the Sea, increase that budget, and get their concerns met, South Los Angeles can too.

People of color and working communities do work harder.  Working hard ultimately leads to progress and equality.

(Janet Denise Ganaway-Kelly offers more than a decade of accomplishments in the housing and nonprofit sector. Janet brings valuable insight in the areas of community and economic development. Additionally, she brings knowledge regarding the leadership and management challenges faced by large and small nonprofits that are struggling or growing organizations. She blogs at –cw

Vol 9 Issue 41
Pub: May 24, 2011