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Different folks

September 20, 2008

Re "In South L.A., a population shift," Sept. 14

In my 1982 book, "Cities, Suburbs and Blacks: A Study of Concerns, Distrust and Alienation" (with James E. Blackwell), we looked at Los Angeles and five other cities in relationship to changing demographics. Our focus in Los Angeles was on South L.A. and surrounding suburbs that were attracting black families.

The demographic shift you describe -- Latinos outnumbering blacks 2 to 1 -- was expected. As you rightly observe, poverty remains a constant. South L.A. remains a neglected neighborhood. Both Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency have declared it to be one of the city's top priorities, but plans lag in terms of significant development that can lead to job creation and wealth creation.

One key factor in moving such plans forward may come from the bottom up -- if Latinos and blacks can coalesce around strategies to rebuild South L.A. that find partners in the public and private sectors.

Philip S. Hart

Los Feliz

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