Racial Tension @ Inglewood High: Gritty Reality or Hollywood Magic?

[From Youth Radio LA] 

Democratic candidate Barack Obama’s recent speech about race relations in the United States highlights how dominant the topic is this election season. In his speech, Obama questions the way the media has characterized the presidential campaigns in terms of which candidate is attracting which ethnic or racial group. For example, some analysts say that Hillary Clinton holds sway with the Latino population and Obama with African Americans, and many pundits assume the trends indicates a tension between Black and Latino communities. Antony Jauregui explores the complexities of race relations in his school Inglewood High. He says, there’s more fear of tension between young Blacks and Latinos, then actual conflict. Maybe this is word to the wise for all those commentators that think, that’s the way it is, and will always be.

Listen to the story in MP3 format, or check out the script after the flip.

RACIAL TENSION– Antony Jauregui, Youth Radio LA

My neighborhood, Inglewood, like many other mostly black and Hispanic neighborhoods is known for the racial tension and segregation between the two groups.

You can see it at my school – Inglewood High. Listen to these two African American students, Ricky Barbee and Calvin Bell have a heated discussion about it…

RICKY: If you look at like lunch time everybody like, like when lunch starts most of the Hispanics, go one spot most the blacks go on the other. You never see them together. And when you do, most of the time it’s because you’re getting ready to fight. It’s never like for a friendship thing.

CALVIN: I disagree with that. I walk around the school a lot and I know all the Hispanics and Blacks and most of them get along.

I see a willingness to unite, but I also notice the segregation. It’s not just at lunchtime, and many times THE segregation is not our choice. One of my peers, Bianca Yah explains how sometimes teachers SEPARATE students, afraid of possible conflict.

BIANCA: Like when they assign seats they sometimes put all the blacks on one side that are in the back or front and Mexicans on opposites from them so they don’t like clash like commotion or chaos.

In my experience, it seems like its more fear of commotion and chaos than actual conflict. The other day I was hanging out with my Hispanic friends and a group of African Americans came to greet us, campus security tailing behind them. I didn’t notice anything weird, but my friend said he did. “It’s all racial;” He explained, “they’re testing us. They’re trying to create tension.”

Michael Peters, an African American, says Black-Brown tension is all hype. Fights between the two groups often aren’t what they seem.

MICHEAL: I remember this one time, when there was a fight and the African American were on one side and the Hispanics on one side and they’re arguing and there are little fights but there is only like two people fighting and everyone had their back. But the next day I see them all together hanging out, playing, like nothing ever happened.

I think Inglewood has one, unique hometown culture. The way people from the neighborhood talk and dress is a mixture of African American cultures and Hispanic cultures. As Hispanics, we are influenced by Hip-Hop and Rap, and there are various Spanish words and phrases that are commonly used AMONG Blacks. For example in my school when my teachers get carried away with giving us homework people from every race now protest by saying “Si se puede!”

Many of us can coexist, but fighting does happen, especially between black and Hispanic gangs. Some teenagers, like Renees Reyes, are cynical abut the role of the media in all this.

Renees: I mean, we separate ourselves but on the same token media helps cause like I said the media states African Americans and Hispanics they’re doing this, they’re doing that and that’s what makes us like believe it, like o.k. Well maybe we are, so we are going to follow that. I mean they’re sitting back laughing at us.

When I pick up an article about racial crimes in Inglewood or other Los Angeles neighborhoods, it gets me down. For one, I hate to see my brothers and sisters from the community hurt each other. But I also get frustrated, because there are many examples of coexistence that we never hear about. Because apparently, peace is not as “Hollywood” as violence.

For KCRW, I’m Antony Jauregui.


One Response

  1. I really just love men. kyle russell is my boyfriend. we love the brown!

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