South Los Angeles, in mainstream media and in the minds of those who don't work or live here, is often branded by the violent and chaotic flashpoints in its history, including the watts rebellion in 1965 in the LA uprising in 1992. The South Central Rooted podcast explores the connections between these events and the generations of institutional neglect and intentional exploitation that preceded them.
This legacy of oppression still affects South LA residents in all aspects of their daily lives from housing, unemployment, transportation, policing, and the environment. And, the combination of these problems has serious consequences for community health. What we have come to realize is that this racist architecture cannot be dismantled piece by piece at a time when South LA residents are increasingly vulnerable to multiple forms of harassment, displacement and erasure.
While South LA has been a testing ground for racist policy, it has also been a real- life laboratory for innovative solutions. Many of the tools, strategies and narratives that South LA leaders developed were once considered too radical. But today these same strategies are being adopted by movement leaders in other cities, and even by policymakers. This is because South LA’s grassroots leaders know that to address these complex, or intersectional problems, we must change the system. Drawing on research and local knowledge, this podcast identifies where Band Aid solutions have failed, where gains have been made, and where future opportunities lie in South LA.
If you are from South Central, are familiar with its history, or are involved in organizing, then kick back listen to some familiar voices share stories about some of the great work your neighbors are doing on behalf of the community. And if you are new to south central or south central is new to you, well, get ready for an education, and welcome to the neighborhood!
Driver 4: Environmental Racism
This episode, “Driver #4- Environmental Racism”, puts into perspective that environmental issues are more than climate change and creating green spaces. In a place like South Central LA, residents are exposed to environmental racism through inequitable policies, poor infrastructure, and persistent toxic exposure in the community. The leaders in this episode discuss the different avenues in which our environment plays a major role in community health and individual health. They unpack the meaning of Environmental Racism and its historical constructs, the resources and innovation spearheaded from South LA organizations, and they provide details on the role residents can have to create a more healthy community environment.
Driver 2: Poverty, Disinvestment, & Joblessness
This episode on Driver 2: Poverty, Disinvestment & Joblessness, explores the root causes of structural poverty and disinvestment in South Central LA. Residents of South Central have long been subjected to policies that are driven by anti-black racism, white supremacy, and capitalism. We speak with community leaders who unpack the legacy of economic discrimination in South Central, the structural barriers to employment for Black and Latinx residents, and the ways in which the South Central community can organize to gain better access to economic opportunity. We conclude with a conversation about the movements necessary to transform South Central into a healthier community with Black and Brown residents standing on a united front.
DRIVER 1- Part 2: Historical Perspectives of Houselessness and Banishment
This bonus episode on Driver 1: Gentrification, Homelessness and Displacement features a candid conversation with Pete White, the founder and Executive Director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN) discussing the houselessness epidemic in Los Angeles. Pete recounts the rich and tumultuous history of housing in Los Angeles within a lens of race, policy and systems change, and economic disinvestment. The conversation elevates the intersections between Driver 1 and the other drivers of disparity such as poverty, disinvestment, and policing which further emphasizes the collective cumulative negative impact of these drivers on the health of Los Angeles residents. The episode concludes with Pete’s analysis of how to tackle systems change within these different drivers.
Driver 1: Gentrification, Displacement, and Homelessness
This episode, "Driver #1 - Gentrification, Homelessness and Displacement," focuses on the trajectory of the housing crisis in South LA from the Great Recession to the pandemic stricken current day. We explore the zoning and housing policies, birthed during the recession, that have continued disinvestment and displacement of South LA residents. We also discuss the adverse health effects of low-income housing in South LA due to racialized health disparities upheld by landlords enforcing slum living conditions. Finally, our panel of community organizers highlights the power of land use and ownership as solutions for South LA residents to reclaim their neighborhood and advance community ownership
Driver 3 - Part 2: Young Adult Voices in Justice Advocacy
This is a special bonus episode on Driver #3 (Policing, Suppression, Deportation, and Mass Incarceration) featuring the voices of young people who have turned to activism in the face of adverse encounters with the criminal justice system in South Los Angeles. Their narratives are centered around their personal interactions with police officers at a young age, and the emotional and mental health impacts these interactions have had on them later in life. We discuss the presence of police in South LA schools, intergenerational trauma of law enforcement interactions, and the inhumane conditions in prisons. While exposure to police presence began at a young age for these changemakers, they each used their experiences as motivation to advocate for change in their community.
Driver 3: Policing, Suppression, Deportation, and Mass Incarceration
This episode, "Driver #3 - Policing, Suppression, Deportation, and Mass Incarceration," focuses on South LA residents’ contentious relationship with law enforcement in various environments and the importance of multi-layered activism to enact change. We discuss the historical relevance of policing in South LA, the harmful encounters between law enforcement and youth, health outcomes related to over-policing, and the different policies created to combat pervasive surveillance in schools. We further discuss the narratives around law enforcement in communities of color, and engage in conversations that reimagine public safety, interactions with law enforcement, reforms for discriminatory practices, and how to foster safer and, thus, healthier environments for South LA residents.