Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon
In 1989, I wrote an article for my college newspaper describing the conditions living in South Central Los Angeles. I was proud when the article was published and in The Voices of South Central, I had it reprinted to show outsiders not to believe everything they read or see on the major news networks when they visit this community. The only honest journalist I've seen to handle this issue is Ted Koppel who took the time and spoke with the people who live here in the community including Bloods and Crips. Not only was Mr. Koppel respectful to the citizens here, he spoke to them as if they were equal, not in a condescending or stereotypical tone. I sincerely doubt the Young Turks to take that approach, anyone from MSNBC or for that matter, the Huffington Post. On the other side, our local Fox affiliate has covered South Central L.A. in the past, famous for saying the word 'thugs' when possible.
Thirty years later, I see social ideologies such as Intersectionality and issues affecting the class system here in America establish a beachhead here in the community in the form of a 'coalition' but I proclaim until the larger issues affecting South Los Angeles are addressed, gender identity issues and others won't make much of a difference. Oh, the coalition have the ears of our young people already, ears connected to eyes that have seen friends and family members move on to the next life by acts of unnecessary violence. I seriously doubt the progressive crowd will ever address these issues now because it's not in their best interest to do so.
Last night, I watched a presidential candidate rage about her experience bussed to a elementary school in a Northern California town rather than defend her policies that impacted the lives of many while she served as our state's attorney general. Besides this candidate, I see a political party who like the other party they oppose willingly ignore the concerns of the citizens in South Los Angeles and East Oakland. They have forgotten us. They have not - nor will not speak with us in respectful tones the same way Mr. Koppel did when he shot segments for Nightline during the Unrest, to understand the rage and anger felt by many in this community.
When a social ideology begins to drown out the concerns of a community for the sake of 'social justice', the residents who live in the community lose out. What good is feminism when a single mother has to work two jobs just to support a family? What will intersectionality do for the young man who lost his father to an unrepentant prison system? What will all the chants of 'this is what justice looks like' mean to the family of a young person who has not found justice either by police brutality or by the hand of another member of the community? What does this coalition stand for when the community has no say in the retail shops they want to see? What does this all mean?
Do you know that the former Balboa Theater in the same article I referenced earlier, still sits unused? It was used as a masque for a local chapter of the Nation of Islam, but the new owner has not opened its doors to the public yet. I ask, what social ideology will open those doors so the community can utilize the space for possible plays, movies, discussions, any use that will pour revenue to the venue and to the community? That's one of the subjects I wrote about and I'm not happy that even now, is willfully being ignored by the mass media. They wouldn't even dare mention our concerns.
To the social justice, intersectional, progressive crowd, I say: communicate with us. Treat us with respect and you will receive it in return. Treat us in the same manner Mr. Koppel did when he visited here twenty-seven years ago. This is all we ask along with understanding our difficult past history. Donât seek to erase it for the sake of 'love and light'. Not that we refute love, but seeing the light has been hard for us in South Los Angeles. I hope you'll understand.