Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)
“How can we save South Los Angeles?” is a tired question. It’s an artifact of previous decades when the region formerly called South Central was known for crime, gangs, poverty, racial conflict, and the 1992 riots, the deadliest American urban uprising since the Civil War.
So let’s retire the old query, and turn it upside down to pose a new and urgent question: How can South Los Angeles save us?
South L.A. is no longer a place apart. Today, it sits in the center of the California story, embodying some of our greatest possibilities, and our greatest struggles. And in a particularly nasty and anxious time in the United States, when pessimism and angry nonsense spread faster than Western wildfires, the South L.A. of 2016 offers a tough-minded but optimistic narrative of just how much can be achieved through determined, steady improvements.