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South LA: Up close and personal

Palm tree lined streets in South LA
Palm tree lined streets in South LA
Google Public Domain

 South LA is ranked as the fourth largest city in California accounting for 10% of the total population with approximately 885,000 people.  Historically, it is known as South Central, a place that most cringe at the idea of high crime (i.e., gangs, riots, etc...) overcrowded classrooms, economic deprivation, poor skill sets and no self-esteem.  Although many of the problems within this very close knit community spanning approximately 60 miles have changed (for the better), South LA still needs its share of rehabilitation.

In 1991, rapper Ice Cube wrote a song, "How to Survive In South Central."  In it, he used many-O choice words to describe his very real growing up in the not-so-desired area.  He was raw and abusive, especially when conveying the rules of engagement toward women: "Rule number two: don't trust nobody especially a bitch, with a hooker's body...females'll get jacked and kidnapped...make sure the bitch ain't a section eight cause if so that's a monkey-wrench ho' and you won't survive in South Central."  Sadly, many of the women that Ice Cube spoke about were single mothers and had succumb to the environment of which they lived.  Many had never been outside the walls of South LA and the lack of vision caused a numbness that became evident in the rearing of children, work ethics and overall ambition. 

According to the LA Times' "Historic South Central Profile, single moms account for 18.6% of all families in the area.  Many of these women are neatly woven into the statistic which documents more than 17,699 people with less than a high school diploma.  The norm that perpetuates generationally is welfare.  It becomes easier for these mothers to stay single mothers and collect governmental generated funds than to make the attempt toward enhancing their personal life conditions.  The upside is, based on the 2000 Census, there were 502 individuals who earned a bachelors degree and 258 who went on to accomplish either a Masters or above.  So, South Central LA isn't just riddled with hopelessness but sprinkled throughout are individuals who have escaped to make a difference in their lives and often return to pay it forward.

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