My parents have lived in our home in South Central LA since the early 1980s. They were proud of their neighborhood and were very active in community affairs. They had participated in the 1992 rebellions following the acquittal of the four LAPD officers who had beaten Rodney King.
A few days ago, I asked them, “How was it?”
They told me that our neighborhood was ravaged by the ensuing riots, but that they hoped that their efforts to hold policemen accountable for senseless beatings and excessive force when it came to people of color would bring change to our world. Unfortunately, 28 years later, not much has changed. It is still open season on black men and police brutality is still rampant. It is what killed George Floyd in Minneapolis.
If you drive down Normandie, you will surely see a different Los Angeles then what you see when you’re cruising around the USC campus. It is two different worlds. Our campus exudes privilege and wealth. The South Central landscape reflects a community still reeling from living as lower-income households, homelessness, crime and the residual effects of the riots. But even though South LA is not all bad, it is a place that many of my white peers fear and would never even think to visit.
I think about this fact quite often.
I also think about my white friends who defend police officers, arguing that not all cops are bad. To me, all officers have issues because they have chosen to be part of an organization whose values continue to thrive on institutional racism and violence.
Work needs to be done.
Not by one side, but by everyone. All sides need to express their outrage for the senseless killings that continue to occur.
To non-black allies like myself, it is time to speak up. I cannot and will not pretend I know the struggles of my black brothers and sisters, but I will stand by them. I will fight with all I have and speak up in all ways I can. This isn’t a time to back down.
It is time to rise.
Rise up and fight against the oppression that hurts and kills innocent people every single day. I have heard ignorant statements such as “All Lives Matter,” which is incredulous because it is not the time to talk about other lives. We have to talk about the things that may be uncomfortable. We have to call out people in our lives.
It is time to call out the learned behavior rooted in hate and racism. It is time to explain what is happening and why we all need to fight.
Fight with all our heart and soul to protect the lives of so many innocent souls.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated that the officers that beat Rodney King were from Simi Valley. They were a part of LAPD. The previous version also stated that King was beaten to death. King did not die in the incident.