The Root Cities: Who's Got the Power in the City of Angels
As part of The Root's city series, we take a look at black political power in the entertainment capital.
Many in the political establishment, including Villaraigosa, Parks, Wesson, Ridley-Thomas and Bass, have urged their constituents on either side of the racial divide to take the high road.
"Black and Latino leaders have long papered over tensions and conflicts between the two groups by putting on the happy public face of blacks and Latinos marching in lockstep to do battle against race discrimination and poverty," observes political essayist Earl Ofari Hutchinson. "There are many well-documented instances where black and Latino leaders have joined forces to battle conservative Republican policies that harm black and Latino interests. That cooperation, though, has mostly been among blacks and Latinos at the legislative level, in Congress and in state legislatures, and not on the ground, in communities where blacks and Latinos uneasily rub shoulders."
"We as a community have got to become something stronger than the Tea Party," quips Edwards. "We've got to become the Coffee Party. We have to learn how to organize and grow candidates who are accountable, and have the skills to get all the 'deliverables' their constituencies need, whether they are blacks, Asians, Latinos, whites or anyone else."
Today the city of Los Angeles is home to 4 million people -- 48 percent Latino, 31 percent white, 11 percent Asian and 10 percent black. Much of L.A. is still segregated, although no one ever speaks of it in those terms -- of whites living only with whites, of blacks only with blacks.
Sooner or later, L.A.'s new leaders will have to deal with that. At stake is nothing less than the racial harmony of the City of Angels, its reputation as the most diverse city in the nation and the future of black politics.
Emory Holmes II is a Los Angeles-based journalist and author. He is currently working on a crime novel set in the San Fernando Valley. Sylvester Monroe is a regular contributor to The Root and a former Angeleno.