TIME Education

Rally Responding to American Flag Trampling Shuts Down Georgia University

Students walked on a flag last week to protest racism

A Georgia university shut down on Friday in preparation for a huge demonstration after a video of protesters trampling an American flag went viral.

Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress told the Valdosta Daily Times that thousands of people who “just want to come down here and support the American flag” were expected to descend on Valdosta State University Friday afternoon.

The rally is a response to a video of students walking on a flag last Friday to protest racism, reported NBC affiliate WALB.com.

“After further discussions with local law enforcement and in the interest of the safety of our…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Crime

Witness Protests in Baltimore Over the Death of Freddie Gray

Protests erupted in Baltimore on Tuesday and continued Wednesday, as demonstrators demand answers on what happened to Freddie Gray, who died of a spine injury after he was arrested by police

TIME Civil Rights

Ole Miss Student Who Hung Noose on Statue Indicted on Civil Rights Charges

University of Mississippi Campus
Wesley Hitt—Getty Images James H. Meredith statue on the campus of the University of Mississippi on April 12, 2008 in Oxford, Miss.

The statue was of James Meredith, the first black student to attend Ole Miss

The man who tied a noose around the neck of a statue of James Meredith at Ole Miss last year will face federal civil rights charges, the Justice Department announced Friday, as the prank was intended to “intimidate” black students and faculty at the school.

Graeme Phillip Harris will face federal charges for hanging a noose and an outdated Georgia flag around the statue of James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first black student to attend Ole Miss. According to the Justice Department, Harris “conspired with others under the cover of darkness” to execute the prank, which the indictment said was intended to “threaten and intimidate” black students at the University.

“This shameful and ignorant act is an insult to all Americans and a violation of our most strongly-held values,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “No one should ever be made to feel threatened or intimidated because of what they look like or who they are. By taking appropriate action to hold wrongdoers accountable, the Department of Justice is sending a clear message that flagrant infringements of our historic civil rights will not go unnoticed or unpunished.”

Harris and his co-conspirators were members of Sigma Phi Epsilon, and their actions (along with other hazing incidents) prompted the national organization to suspend the Ole Miss Chapter, according to an email to members from Grand President Philip Cox.

 

TIME Civil Rights

See Barack Obama’s Historic Event in Selma

Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when peaceful civil rights protesters marched across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Ala. only to be brutally beaten by police on the other side. The Obama family, along with members of Congress and civil rights leaders, made a symbolic walk across the bridge

TIME Crime

These Are Some of the Racist Emails Ferguson Police Sent

Riot police force protestors from the business district into nearby neighborhoods in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 11, 2014.
Scott Olson—Getty Images Riot police force protestors from the business district into nearby neighborhoods in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 11, 2014.

Messages are ‘demonstrative of impermissible bias,’ report says

One email mocked then-recently elected President Barack Obama, stating he wouldn’t hold the office for long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.” A second depicted him as a chimpanzee. Another email ridiculed African-American speech patterns as other messages made jokes involving a black mother receiving an abortion and described a photo of what appeared to be dancing African women as “Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion.”

MORE Feds Clear Ferguson Cop Darren Wilson of Civil Rights Violations

Those were just some of the emails released by the U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday as it released the findings of two civil rights investigations into the Ferguson, Mo. police that showed evidence of overt racism and prejudice within the department.

The justice department said that its review of internal documents “revealed many additional email communications that exhibited racial or ethnic bias, as well as other forms of bias.” The report included a summary of one December 2011 email that mocked Muslims and another that joked about African-Americans receiving welfare.

“The content of these communications is unequivocally derogatory, dehumanizing and demonstrative of impermissible bias,” the report says.

MORE Ferguson Reviewing Federal Report on Police Force

The investigation also found that the emails included Ferguson Police Department supervisors who “are responsible for holding officers accountable to governing laws, including the Constitution, and helping to ensure that officers treat all people equally under the law, regardless of race or any other protected characteristic.”

The report found only one instance in which someone within the department acknowledged that the material was offensive, but the investigation did not find that anyone had ever been disciplined.

Ferguson police became a focal point of a national conversation about race and policing last summer after Darren Wilson, a white officer, shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. Wilson was not indicted by a grand jury and on Wednesday the federal government announced it had cleared the officer of committing civil rights violations.

Read next: Attorney General Says Report of Ferguson Police Is ‘Searing’

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME justice

U.S. Faults Ferguson Police for Racial Bias

Protesters drop a mirrored casket in front of a line of police officers in front of the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Mo. on Oct. 10, 2014.
Robert Cohen—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Getty Images Protesters drop a mirrored casket in front of a line of police officers in front of the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Mo., on Oct. 10, 2014

The report is scathing, but the big question is what comes next

The violent protests in Ferguson last August were driven by the indelible image of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, lying in the street after a white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot him dead. But the outrage in Ferguson, and the national debate that accompanied it, were also about something harder to see: racism, and the allegation that Ferguson’s largely white cops were deeply, systematically and violently prejudiced against black residents.

Now, as one of his last acts as U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder has painted a picture of Ferguson’s entrenched racism that is clear and unmistakable. A Justice Department investigation opened after Brown’s shooting has found routine patterns and practices of racism in Ferguson, including the excessive use of force and unjustified arrests, officials said Tuesday. The findings are scathing in their detail:

In 88 percent of the cases in which the department used force, it was against African Americans. In all of the 14 canine-bite incidents for which racial information was available, the person bitten was African American.

In Ferguson court cases, African Americans are 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by a municipal judge, according to the Justice review. In 2013, African Americans accounted for 92 percent of cases in which an arrest warrant was issued.

The investigation also turned up bigoted emails, like one from November 2008 that reportedly said President Obama wouldn’t complete his first term as President because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported another racist message, from May 2011, reading: “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.'”

The Justice Department spent 100 days in Ferguson collecting such details, and the report is an end in itself, putting an official stamp on the town’s problems that some had found easy to dismiss. But when it comes to fixing the harsh reality of racism in Ferguson, it’s not clear transparency will be enough.

The question now is whether the report will deliver reform in the beleaguered St. Louis suburb. The Justice Department under Holder has significantly increased the number of pattern or practice investigations, and some past settlements with police departments have led to dramatic improvements. But others say the department’s lack of enforcement powers mean reform depends on local politicians, and worry Ferguson’s leaders won’t bring change.

Under the 1994 law authorizing such “pattern or practice” investigations, the Justice Department has little enforcement power to fix the problems it finds. As a rule, it enters into contracts with the offending force, which agrees to increase transparency and data collection and to provide better training and supervision.

Police officials and their unions often resist reform, several studies have shown. The Justice Department has “very few sticks they can use,” to get past such obstacles, says Elliot Harvey Schatmeier, a lawyer at the New York City office of Kirkland & Ellis and the author of one such study.

Others say that in many cases, the attention brought by the investigations is enough. In Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Los Angeles, Justice Department investigations led to successful reforms, says Chris Stone, president of the Open Society Foundations and a criminal-justice scholar. More important, Stone says, “They’ve established a national standard for what good policing looks like.”

Holder’s Ferguson findings, Stone says, have the potential to lead to a similar blueprint for smaller, suburban police forces around the country, which have typically been hard to reform.

By the same token, though, a failure in the high-profile Ferguson case could set back the effort to reform small police departments. Holder has established with clarity the problem in Ferguson. But without local political buy-in, the town that came to symbolize 21st century police racism in America could end up symbolizing its resistance to reform too.

TIME Soccer

Three Chelsea Fans Suspended from Stadium After Paris Metro Incident

Chelsea is suspending three individuals from Stamford Bridge for their role in a racist incident that took place on the Paris Metro prior to the club’s Champions League match this week against Paris Saint Germain, the English club announced Thursday.

Chelsea also said that the individuals could face a lifetime ban depending on the evidence.

Following the team’s 1-1 draw with PSG on Tuesday, video surfaced of Chelsea fans pushing a black man off the train. As the man walks away, fans started chanting, “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it.”

The incident occurred before the game. Chelsea and UEFA condemned the actions of the fans in the aftermath of the incident.

On Thursday, the man who was pushed off the train told Le Parisien that he wants the perpetrators to be “found, punished and locked up.”

This story originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Security

Chipotle Hackers Direct Racist Tweets at Obama

Changed company's logo to a swastika

Chipotle apologized and promised an investigation into racist tweets sent by hackers from the company’s Twitter account early Sunday morning.

In the early morning hours, the hackers changed the company’s avatar to a photo of swastika and tweeted racist remarks directed at President Barack Obama. Other tweets targeted the FBI and included other offensive language.

Chipotle’s Twitter biography was changed to say it was the official account of “@TUGFeds” and “@TheCeltic666.” Both accounts had been suspended as of Sunday afternoon.

TIME Race

Being Black Shouldn’t Mean I Have to Be ‘Twice as Good’

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xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

You saw it on 'Scandal.' We've heard it our whole lives

Black feminist, theorist, and author Audre Lorde once wrote, “Raising black children, female and male, in the mouth of a racist, sexist, suicidal dragon is perilous and chancy. If they cannot love and resist at the same time, they will probably not survive.”

As I live life in this world as a black woman, I often wonder, how does one, at a young age, learn to both love and resist? What does resistance in the face of racism and sexism look like? And, how young is too young to learn these lessons of survival?

I was five years old, braided twists and colorful bobbles and barrettes in my hair, learning to read for the first time, when my mother held me close and gave me my first lesson in respectability politics, and, consequently, my first lesson in survival for a person of black girlhood.

My mother, a Caribbean-American immigrant born in Jamaica, and I were reading Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli at the time. In this book Mr. Magee reaches the town of Two Mills — a town literally divided by racial lines. In Two Mills, Black citizens lived in the East End while the white citizens lived in the West End. On his first day in East End, Mr. Magee met and befriended a reluctant Amanda Beale.

Amanda Beale, an impeccably dressed black girl with glasses, plaits, a messenger bag full of books, and on her way into East End’s school house, just didn’t have time for the strange, ripped-and-dirty-clothes-wearing white boy who in his haste to talk to her was making her late for school.

Amanda Beale was an avid reader, a no-nonsense girl who had no problem putting Mr. Magee in his place. She was smart, confident, well-read, and poor. Amanda Beale was relegated to best friend of the main character status. Despite the book’s white savior complex (and the fetishizing comparisons of Mr. Magee’s newfound black friends’ skin complexions to foods like caramel and coffee beans), this novel was essential to my development.

It’s clear to me, now, that my mother had chosen it for us to read because of its discussions on race relations. It was my literary introduction to my mother’s lessons on respectability and survival.

It began when I expressed my awe of Amanda Beale’s character. She wasn’t like any representation of a black girl I’d seen in the media thus far, and yes, at five, I picked up on that. To this notion, my mother held me close. Her voice trembled but she looked me squarely in the eyes.

“Are you listening?” she’d said.

“Yes, Mom,” I replied, because in our house it was “yes, Mom” or “no, Mom.” There was no, “What?” “Huh?” or my mother’s least favorite, “What do you want?” to be had or heard in that house.

“You like Amanda, right?”

I nodded my head, my hair bobbles click-clacking with the movement.

“You see that she can read and write better and she doesn’t take anything from anybody?”

I nodded again. I did see. Amanda’s intelligence wasn’t a novelty to us, though. Despite what the media will tell you, black women are statistically the most college-educated across racial and gender lines in American society.

But an Amanda Beale would be a novelty to some. And my mother understood that. In that moment, she would make damn sure I understood that, too.

“There are people in this world who will…” she scrunched up her eyebrows and nose, debating her words with careful precision, “underestimate you. They’ll say little things. They’ll doubt that you’re smart, they’ll doubt that you’re kind, some will even treat you like less than a human being deserves.”

I didn’t like where this conversation was going.

Because I was five and maybe it was too soon for me to be learning this, really contextualizing and unpacking this, but what was the alternative? A black girl ill-equipped will be chewed up and spit out. I didn’t yet know that a black girl can never be equipped enough to face the racism and sexism of this world, though we quite literally fight and, some, die trying.

All I could do in my discomfort was squirm. My mother believed that a small price to pay. She held me, firmly.

“There are people in this world that will judge and hurt you, because of me.”

She said things like that a lot.

She blamed herself for the racially and classist based mistreatment that my brother and I would face. As if it was her fault that her children are black, like blackness is a stain on our skin and a stain that needs to be wiped out by society. Or like capitalism, racism, and her disabilities weren’t partly to blame for her, at the time, working class status in society.

You see, before my mother knew anything about me, she knew two key things that would dictate the trajectory of my life: I would be born black and she would have to raise me on a limited income. She blamed herself. People of this world have ill-formed preconceived notions of black people, black women, poor people, poor black people, and especially preconceived negative notions of poor black women.

Back on her bed, she told me, “Because of that, you’ll have to study hard and push yourself. You’ll have to push yourself harder than most other people because that isn’t expected of you. You don’t want people to think you’re not smart do you?”

I shook my head slowly from left to right. No.

“Good,” she said.

She would teach me respectability and a form of survival in order to combat classist, racist, and sexist attitudes. This conversation was only the beginning.

When I was nine years old, living a few towns over in Mattapan, Massachusetts in another three bedroom apartment, I remember having fun joking with my younger brother.

Arriving home from school, we’d barely stepped over the threshold of the front entrance to our apartment. My high cheekbones etched with the laughing lines of my pronounced lips, I joked with my brother in African-American Vernacular English. Some people also refer to this language, steeped in both English and West African linguistic patterns, as slang and/or Ebonics.

My brother laughed at whatever I had said.

My mother rapped us both with a light slap to our book-bag strap clad shoulders. She wagged her right index finger, maneuvering her finger and reprimanding stern look between the both of us.

“Don’t talk like that. Because if you say that here, you’ll slip up and speak like that outside.”

She “humphed” and walked further into our home, leaving my brother and me to stew with our thoughts.

There, walking away from us further into the house, was a woman whose Jamaican born parents told her to “lose” her accent in order to better assimilate into American society and negate negative stereotypes. To this day, my mother’s voice and speech pattern of Jamaican patois only becomes laden with a Jamaican accent when she’s angry.

There was a woman who’d learned her own respectability politics from her mother, my Nana, and was now passing this knowledge down to us.

This was my mother’s act of revolution, my mother’s lesson of resistance, my mother’s shield to racism and classism that she gave to her children. It was her only hope to fight the fear of our forthcoming mistreatment.

While white children could speak in popular slang terms and not be judged as unintelligent and forced to represent their entire race, my brother and I had to mind our tongues from speaking in a language that our people had hatched, cultivated, and enriched. I reflect on this at a time when it is popular for ads for various companies and products to use Ebonics or slang to sell their products, although their companies don’t reflect a diverse group of employees in positions of power.

At the time of being reprimanded for our slang, my brother and I, nine and eight respectively, had only mostly been subject to microagressions. Sure, when I was only four and my father had been taken to a police station under the guise of “justified” racial profiling, a white cop walking near me, “bumped” into me and assaulted my small frame with the gun latched into his holster. And sure, he didn’t apologize and he walked on by like he hadn’t done anything wrong or, quite frankly, committed an act of violence against a four-year-old black girl. My mother lit into him with verbal foliage so colorful that I’m sure his children many times over will feel the wake of its effects before they ever commit other acts of racism. Or, so I hope.

But, mostly we’d been subject to casual racism, like the teachers at my school who told me I was so articulate and spoke so well. (What did they expect? It was at a rare rigorous elementary school in the inner city where they themselves instructed me.) Or like the people who asked my mother if she was sure that her daughter played the violin in a highly selective orchestra. Was she sure? Hell yes. She only drove me to six-hour rehearsals every Sunday.

But, my mother upheld that if my brother and I negated these ill-formed pre-conceived notions by not speaking in Ebonics and studied hard, our lot in life would be easier.

In fact, later that year when my predominately white fourth grade class that I was bused to via an advanced placement program for Boston-based minorities was learning our multiplication time tables, she turned it into another respectability lesson.

First, my mother had me make a flash card set of multiplication equations up until the “12 times” tables.

She, in no uncertain terms, told me to sit down and learn them and not to come to her unless I learned, understood, and memorized them all.

“If you come to me and I test you on any one of these and find that you don’t know them, I’m gonna spank you.”

I violently shook my head from side to side and protested, stamping my foot into the hardwood. It was ill-advised. I’m lucky she didn’t snatch me up right then and there for the rare form of disrespect administered by a child of color to her parent of color. In non-western cultures, disrespect to your elders is more than frowned upon.

And so I wised up, “fixed my face,” and sat up straighter, mumbling a sorry.

She sighed.

“I’m not doing this to punish you. You need to understand.”

She got closer now, in my face where we could be eye level.

“You have to be twice — TWICE — as good to get half of what they have. Always.”

I fought back tears.

I was already experiencing this in school — and I did have to be “twice as good” to be applauded for my work in class when my mostly white classmates escaped casual racism on a daily basis. I did have to stand out to be noticed or celebrated in a world that directly and indirectly berates children of color and reprimands us when we attempt to carve out spaces for ourselves. I did have to go above and beyond in all things to negate the racism that I would face in a “prove them wrong” fashion.

And when my white classmates’ parents leered at my peers of color and me for taking up too many seats in the local school of their suburban neighborhood, though we’d earned our seats through placing high scores on a test while some white students weren’t nearly as well-read, versed, or didn’t study as hard as we did, those white students were still celebrated and cherished members of our school environment. They would still grow up to be privileged in a classist and racial context of our society. And I would still face classism and racism as a poor black girl until the day I die.

I learned all of my multiplication tables that day.

Not before trying to skirt past my mother’s own rigorous standards and pretend like I’d learned them all. She started with the hardest ones first, weeding them out until she caught one that I couldn’t rattle off immediately.

And she whooped my butt.

From the clothes my brother and I wore, to the conversations we held, to the ways in which we wore our hair, to the music we listened to, to the schools we were admitted to, down to the grades we received, there was always a double standard to be met.

I remember as a young teen joking with my cousin and brother as we procured bandanas for our hair, loosened our pants so that they hung low, and walked with a limp in our step around my cousin’s home.

“Nah come ‘round here like no city boppin’ fool… Chuh!”

The three of us, my cousin, brother, and I, jumped in place having been startled. Turning, we spotted our grandmother’s disapproving look. We quickly straightened, fixed our pants, and ripped the bandanas from our heads. It felt like we’d been caught committing a cardinal sin. As a joke, we’d adopted caricatured mannerisms of the ways in which we saw black and brown people being portrayed on television, but with our grandmother’s reprimands, the moment quickly became serious.

I reflect on this moment at a time when it is trendy on social media for my white peers to take selfies wearing hoodies, black sunglasses and caption their photos “thug life.”

And at a time when it’s popular for college students to adopt “thug,” “gangster,” or “hood” Halloween costumes, complete with painting their skins black or brown. I can’t articulate enough that baggy clothes, bandanas, hats, and braids don’t make a person a gangster or a thug. The juxtaposition of white skin against these articles of clothing allow for a sort of costuming or ironic joke to take place. It’s funny when a white suburban kid dresses up in a hoodie, baggie jeans, etc. because “of course,” the white suburban kid would never be suspected as being a thug. “Of course,” the white suburban kid would or could never be a thug.

In reality, more often than not, a white person committing a crime is never described or policed as a “thug” but, rather, “misunderstood,” and treated as a human being entitled to due process in a court of law.

However, my brother, cousin, and I are not allowed that “joke” in the context of our lives. Despite the college educations at top universities between the three of us, more often than not we will be perceived as threats, thugs, or dangerous in our lifetimes. That statement is not for semantics. It’s not exaggerated and it’s not said for dramatic effect.

That’s not something I can prove to anyone who doesn’t experience racial profiling firsthand. And by firsthand, I mean you being on the receiving end of being racially profiled, not you driving around with your black friend. For more on the matter, I suggest tracking and comparing the 140 character anecdotes found in the hashtags #Alivewhileblack and #Crimingwhilewhite on Twitter. For my grandmother, however, her scolding didn’t go past that one scolding sentence. It would take the next several years for me to unpack and fully understand her policing of my brother, cousin, and me that day.

But, are these lessons in respectability useful for children of color to learn?

Consider, for instance, that despite being a college-educated and god-fearing man, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was targeted and, ultimately, killed because of his race.

But, similarly in the way that young girls and women are taught not to wear revealing clothing in order to prevent a rape from being committed against them, children of color are taught the world over various ways in which we should prevent the acts of racism that are committed against us. Through an intersectional lens, consider then the gender and race-specific respectability politics that are taught to a black girl, woman, or female-identified person throughout their years in order to prevent sexual assault, sexism, and racism from plaguing their lives.

Finally, I’d like to note that this essay and similar sentiments made in other conversations or mediums (such as the scene in Scandal during which Papa Pope reminds Olivia of his instructions that she herself must be “twice as good to get half of what they have”), are not made to express that individual white children don’t face hardships or that they don’t learn difficult lessons from a young age.

White supremacy makes way for terms like “white trash,” a term that suggests that a white person who is poor, illiterate, “country,” or perhaps mentally ill, etc. is an atypical white person. The “white” in “white trash” is used to denote that this person is unusual for the white race.

However, it is important to note that these lessons in respectability politics and survival that are taught to young people of color may not be enough to save us from the violence.

I look inward, having reflected on my upbringing and understand my mother and grandmother’s version of resistance but look outward in wondering, “What other forms of resistance can we teach young people of color to thwart the racist, sexist, and suicidal dragon?”

At this time of national turmoil and unrest, it is my deepest regret that I do not, in fact, know.

Jasmine Rose-Olesco wrote this article for xoJane.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

My Neighborhood Doesn’t Need Football or Your Pity

Cars pass along Manchester Boulevard on Sept. 5, 2012 in the Los Angeles-area community of Inglewood, California.
David McNew—Getty Images Cars pass along Manchester Boulevard on Sept. 5, 2012 in the Los Angeles-area community of Inglewood, California.

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

Inglewood, California is an economically diverse Latino and black city, with possibilities to deliver the American dream

To live in Inglewood is to have people make assumptions about you. Recently, people have been making assumptions about what a new pro football stadium, proposed by the owner of the NFL’s Rams, would mean for us. One such assumption now prevalent in the media is that we’ll embrace it, because we’re assumed to be economically desperate because Inglewood is “over 90 percent minority” (LA Times), “a largely low-income suburb” (the U.K.’s Independent), or a bad “neighborhood” (a characterization in movies back to Grand Canyon).

Inglewood, where I live and work, has 100,000 people. It is a city, not a neighborhood. Indeed, it, is made up of very different places. I grew up in Morningside Park, a middle-class neighborhood that borders the Forum and the Hollywood Park property where the stadium would be built. Morningside Park has nearly 10,000 homeowners. According to City Data, the median income in the ZIP code 90305 (which includes Morningside Park) is $65,000. The median income in California is $57,000.

That proximity to familiar landmarks is one reason why my family located here in 1974, before I was born My parents researched many communities and after not being allowed to view a house in Santa Monica—because they were black—they had a choice between a house in Carson or Inglewood. They chose Inglewood.

“The Forum is here, they have a hotel and it’s right by the airport,” my dad often said when asked how he and my mom came to own a home in Inglewood. There was also considerable pride: Morningside Park was one of the first black middle class neighborhoods in L.A., a destination beginning in the ’60s for people moving out of what was then called South Central and now is known as South L.A.

Growing up, I’m not sure I appreciated what a special place Inglewood was. I didn’t realize that not all black kids in Los Angeles enjoyed my carefree life: I rode my bike, did chores for a $10 weekly allowance, and danced around to cheesy ’80s tunes on the weekend. Only after going away to college at UC Riverside did I learn the extent to which people viewed Inglewood as scary.

In the 1990s, if you were Black and lived south of the 10 freeway (whether in Inglewood, Compton, Crenshaw or Watts), you were said to live in “South Central,” even if Central Avenue was on the other side of town. The regional term was code for “black” and living in a black neighborhood in Los Angeles County meant you lived where all the scary black gang members lived.

There was no allowance for diversity in blackness. Blackness was considered—and still is, to many—a personality type like being humorous or empathetic. In high school in Inglewood, I was Teka, “the weird poet girl with all kinds of fun ideas whose mom is the prettiest mom on the block.” In college, I was “the black girl from South Central.”

During my freshman year in the dorms, my roommate saw a picture of my parents and, shocked, said,“You have a dad!?” I guess black people don’t have dads.

I stopped saying I was from Inglewood and said I was from around the airport.

When people assumed Westchester, I just never bothered to correct them.

“You speak very well,” people would say. I was not used to being patronized and complimented for talking like a typical L.A. kid. I did not know how to respond in any way, so I remained silent. And when I did speak, I remained vague.

That is Inglewood’s story in a way. It doesn’t matter that our community is filled with writers and artists (I’m one of them—I came back after college and started a newspaper). Nor does it matter that the black people in Inglewood’s Morningside Park and Century Heights—which border the Forum—are homeowners and among the most highly educated African American populations in California. What matters is that we’re south of the 10 and so we must be in need.

The reality is that my neighbors aren’t happy about the prospect of living so close to a NFL stadium. That shouldn’t be surprising when one considers the traffic, noise, pollution, hassles, and history of communities next to big sports facilities. We’re also not happy about nonstop building in Inglewood – the stadium is part of a large redevelopment of the Hollywood Park property — with no concern for urban planning or the environment. We moved here because of the character of the community and to live in a residential neighborhood with single-family homes where kids can ride their bikes.

We also moved to Morningside Park because it was small and our neighbors said “Hello” to each other. We liked that my mom—who never learned to drive the L.A. freeways—could easily take her Datsun to get groceries and then pick me up from the local Catholic school.

My hope is that, with attention fixed on Inglewood, my neighborhood will finally be recognized as a gem, and that the assumptions people make about Inglewood will float away and people will see it as it truly is. Inglewood is an economically diverse Latino and black city, with some good and some bad. It is also a place that reliably delivered the American dream to my parents. Here a couple with typical jobs can afford to buy a house, raise a kid or two, and go on a few vacations.

Progress and change are not bad, but what good will come from building a football stadium that mostly sits empty? Corporatization of a city under the guise of concern for the community is neither future-minded nor progressive.

It’s the same old tale of “progress” being defined as black people being left with nothing more than the insecurity of jobs as security guards for the rich. Instead of protecting what’s here today, communities are maligned so that the city can “move forward” and bulldoze whatever must be bulldozed to create touristy entertainment. Because if it was black, it couldn’t have been much of anything, right?

It is long past time for people to stop making assumptions about Inglewood.

Teka-Lark Fleming is an Inglewood native. She publishes the Morningside Park Chronicle and is the producer and host its vlog MPC presents The Blk Grrrl Show. She wrote this for Zocalo Public Square.

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