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Understanding the Riots--Six Months Later : Separate Lives / DEALING WITH RACE IN L.A. : What Does It Take to Get Along?

November 16, 1992

Students in Les Maza's 9th-grade leadership class at Belvedere Middle S chool in East Los Angeles are seeking to improve their school's quality. The school is 99% Latino, and nearly all the students are from working-class or poor families.

Rosella Treja, 14.

I'm not afraid of people or their color. I think people are equal. Their color of skin shouldn't matter. Everyone should be getting along and not fighting just because of the tone of your color. I was raised to think that race, color, creed--it's all the same to me. Yet, say you go into a store where Koreans and Orientals are, they watch everywhere you are and everything you do. They say, 'This person is Mexican,' so they look at you a certain way. They make you think you are not wanted. It shouldn't be that way.

Araceli Rubalcaba, 13.

I think it will be worse when we graduate from high school (in 1996). There are too many people who are too concerned about color. It's what's inside--it's the feelings you have--that's important. I have an Oriental friend and we get along. I have black friends too. We get along OK. But not everyone is that way.

Jessica Sanchez, 14.

During the riots, my aunt's store in South-Central was burned down. And my uncle was shot. He's OK now. And the insurance said they would pay for it, but only if they built in the same place. They didn't want to. People are afraid now. I don't think it's going to get better because a lot of people think they are better than other people and so no one can get along. Yet people can get along if they just try. I went to a birthday party of a little brother of a friend of mine. They were black. Everyone there was black. But they were real nice to me. They talked to me and everything. I liked that.

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