Everybody Loves the Sunshine

By Lynell George

Via LAist:


When you’re from Los Angeles and far from home, it is never unusual to spot a hint of the familiar in some on-screen backdrop: a car commercial, a music video, a glammed-up police procedural. But when you hail specifically from “Black Los Angeles” — finding your personal cross streets swirl up on television, especially from afar, prompts a unique set of emotions.

The Avenues: The Backdrop of South L.A.

Instantly, I recognized the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue. I’d grown up just down the street. Five — no — three minutes away. Back then, I seldom saw my neighborhood on television, except, of course, if something tragic had transpired. Some crime blotter mishap: gang-related violence, a robbery. So when a jittery picture, framed from above, filled the screen. I already knew to steady myself. From the newsticker running across the bottom quarter of the screen, I deciphered that Nipsey Hussle, the L.A.-born and Crenshaw-bred rapper, activist and entrepreneur had been shot outside of his business, the Marathon Clothing store. In a short time, the newsticker reset to announce his death. Murdered. He was 33.

My heart broke into innumerable scattered fragments. The atmosphere shifted in the room, too. This mostly-Black crowd in a quickly gentrifying neighborhood, didn’t just know who Nipsey Hussle was; they also deeply identified with what he symbolized. Pushback. Resilience. He could have moved “up and out”; he could have chosen to be anywhere, but instead he was taking his community back, taking into his arms. His example of re-investment offered a path toward hope.

Though I am a generation older than he was, this loss was my loss. This was the neighborhood that shaped me and, in certain ways, it is the place I’m always trying to get back to in my soul. He’d grown up in this same patch — running the avenues and boulevards: Sweeping corridors lined with impossibly tall, listing palm trees, chockablock stretches of charming starter homes. He’d made a point to make these streets the backdrops of media photos and music videos. They, in turn, became his kingdom. And while many of those blocks still stood strong, unified in spirit, we all saw, in real-time, that the landmarks, the charm, the voices and rhythms of life there were in jeopardy. By choosing to remain in place — visible — he’d made inroads and impact.

Read more at LAist

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