Compton’s Racial Divide

Jim Newton, Los Angeles Times, May 16, 2011

Imagine if today’s Los Angeles were governed by a white mayor and an all-white City Council. And then imagine if that anomaly was protected by city election rules that virtually guaranteed no Latino candidate could land a spot in elected office. The civil rights community would be apoplectic and the public justifiably enraged.

Now consider Compton, a city that’s about two-thirds Latino but in which no Latino has ever held elected office. Instead, thanks in part to the kind of voting rules that were challenged and abandoned in many cities long ago, an all-black City Council and a black mayor maintain a firm hold on public office.

In Compton, City Council members run in citywide elections, which means all voters can vote in all races. If instead, as happens in Los Angeles, council members represented specific geographic areas and were voted on only by residents of those areas, heavily Latino neighborhoods would have a better chance of electing Latino council members. And then, having cracked the city’s closed politics, a group of experienced officeholders who could vie for mayor and other citywide offices would develop.

Compton’s commitment to at-large voting, which has been challenged in a lawsuit alleging violations of the California Voting Act, is the manifestation of a particularly noxious brand of racial politics that plays out in schools, elections and even civic events. {snip}

Meanwhile, the city’s demographics are rapidly changing and apparent everywhere. Barbecue and soul-food restaurants still have their place in the 10-square-mile city of 95,000 residents, but they now stand alongside taco stands and Oaxacan cafes; Stella’s Beauty Salon caters to “hombres, mujeres y ninos.” Evangelical storefront churches draw a multiplicity of faiths, with the Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal M.E. sitting just down the block from Greater Zion Church Family. Rap music thumps from car radios, but so does ranchero. According to the census, more than half of Compton’s families speak Spanish at home.

So why hasn’t that meant an automatic transformation of Compton politics? Some of the city’s Latinos are in the country illegally and thus can’t vote; even those here legally may not be citizens or feel themselves ready to join the electorate. And many are too young to vote. Despite their demographic dominance, Latinos make up only about 44% of Compton’s voting-age population, so the city’s black leadership, by insisting on citywide elections, has been able to dilute Latino voting strength. If Compton were broken into geographic districts, voting-age Latinos would almost certainly be a majority in at least one, and perhaps more (depending on how the lines were drawn). This would give them, finally, a foothold of political influence.

In the civil rights movement of the 1950s, blacks relied on the Constitution and found an ally in the courts. Now, the black leadership of Compton is defending its system in the courts against three Latino plaintiffs seeking to replace Compton’s at-large council elections with district-by-district ballots.

{snip}

Royce Esters, a businessman and civil rights leader who has lived in Compton since 1956, put it more bluntly. Blacks in Compton, he said, “kept on it until we got elected. . . . Latinos just have to get out there and vote.”

But there’s more to it. Today, the very practices once employed by Southern whites–diluting the voting power of blacks, evading media inquiries, defending their political power against demographic trends–is now the province of Compton blacks. {snip}

Topics:

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Blaak Obongo

    “Imagine if today’s Los Angeles were governed by a white mayor and an all-white City Council. And then imagine if that anomaly was protected by city election rules that virtually guaranteed no Latino candidate could land a spot in elected office. The civil rights community would be apoplectic…”

    Unquestionably. So what?

    “…and the public justifiably enraged.”

    Just exactly which segments of “the public” would be “enraged?” And why would this be “justifiable?” Is anyone ever permitted to be “justifiably enraged” when Whites are disenfranchised?

    “,,,the very practices once employed by Southern whites—diluting the voting power of blacks, evading media inquiries, defending their political power against demographic trends—is now the province of Compton blacks.”

    Got that? This is all a Terrible Thing because “Southern Whites” used to do it. I guess if blacks had invented it all on their own, it’d be A-okay. But in either case, absolutely no racial nationalism–not even of the black variety–will be tolerated in Multiculti Wonderland.

    Okay, blacks, how does the other shoe fit? You won’t have the Imperial government, or the “civil rights community” backing you up with guns and lawyers this time. This time, you’re on your own, just like us Whites. Is it beginning to sink in that all those wonderful People of Hispanic Color aren’t going to be your allies in Smashing Whitey after all?

    What will you do now? We’re all waiting to see.

  • sbuffalonative

    But there’s more to it. Today, the very practices once employed by Southern whites—diluting the voting power of blacks, evading media inquiries, defending their political power against demographic trends—is now the province of Compton blacks.

    Nice little dig at the end; blaming racist whites for teaching blacks how to suppress minority voters.

  • Joey

    Basically the LA Times columnists is mad that the majority of Hispanics in Compton are illegal aliens so they can’t bit the blacks who organize and are actually eligible to vote. Sorry, no sympathy for the illegal aliens. Blacks are just doing what is logical. But at least the article points to the double standard that if these were whites, the media would be having a hissy fit.

  • Mr.White

    But I thought “diversity and multiculturalism are our ‘greatest strength’!” What happened?

  • Anonymous

    This and other items in AmRen, make me wonder if the grande alliance of feminists, liberals, plutocrats, immigrants, and non-whites hasn’t begun to unravel.

    Liberal Newton seems upset that Hispanics and blacks are fighting each other rather than racist white men. Your president had the same attitude toward his Kenyan half sister, when she complained about Korean immigrants. Your president criticized her, telling her that all races must unit against white men.

  • Anonymous

    Uh..Newton..could it be that the Latino electorate is comprised of 90% illegals…and who cannot vote because they cannot

    produce a valid ID?

    Explain yourself Newton..explain the mental gymnastics that

    kept you from recognizing the obvious.

  • Anonymous

    Why shouldn’t the ENTIRE city determine its elected officials? Compton is a relatively small area. Are the interests of one district really that different from the next district?

  • Cousin Charlie from TN

    Compton was a town founded by and for whites in 1867. The notion that it is some “black paradise” is utter fiction. Look it up.

  • Anonymous

    Illegal aliens and anchor babies in Compton denied representation? How atrocious and un-American. Invaders are people, too. By not allowing them to elect members of their own race you deny them their “personhood” and that just can’t be allowed in an egalitarian society like ours. Where is Sharpton when you need him.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Ah, Yes! Compton — the name alone strikes fear in us Native Born White Angelenos!

    Compton made it to number eight in 2010 among the nation’s most-violent-crime-plagued cities.

    And, it’s not as if Compton has been so well run under Black Rule, existing for decades as a sort of Black, above-the-law, mini-Fiefdom.

    Any objections you RACISTS? Didn’t think so…

    Here’s the skinny, Straight Outta Compton!:

    Former Mayor Omar Bradley and four current city officials—including three city council members—have been arrested on felony embezzlement charges.

    In 2000, the Compton Police Department was disbanded amidst controversy and charges of corruption. The police department claims it was disbanded after investigations of gang activity led to then-Compton Mayor Omar Bradley.

    Compton has fired its city manager for the second time in three years. Some of the accusations involve the issuing of city contracts to personal donors and friends.

    The District Attorney’s Office has launched an internal inquiry into charges that Deputy DA, Eric Perrodin, who is also the mayor of Compton, threatened retaliation against a newspaper that published an account of possible overbilling… the Compton mayor called publisher Grace-Kellogg “just a white girl who lives in Malibu!”

    The Compton school board has challenged the Parent Trigger and is trying to force parentssome of whom have deportation concernsto meet with district authorities face to face so they can verify the parents’ signatures. Compton Unified officials plan to throw out any signatures that can’t be verified through the in-person meetings.

    But face it, Black Run Compton: Demographics are NOT on your side (the law doesn’t matter, you’ve been above the law for years, and as you are a black-run city, the law does not apply to you).

    And, don’t even think of blaming Whites for your demise in California when your OWN politicians support open borders and increased levels of immigration to displace you. Maxine Waters: Immigration-Reduction Career Grade = F

    But, as you’re learning, against the Hispanic Tidal Wave sweeping over S. California, Resistance is Futile!

    (just ask us S. California Whites — if you can find any, that is…)

    Bon

  • AvgDude

    Blacks can want what they want all they want but hispanics will have more kids, more families, more voters, and more IQ points than blacks will ever have. The blacks will have to rely on the mercies of the whites they’ve been dumping on for 40 years if they want a political future.

  • Anonymous

    This is actually the Department of Justice’s latest ploy to disenfranchise Whites and put non Whites in every elective office.

    The DOJ is all over tiny towns in Ventura county, just north of Los Angeles county to redistrict these tiny towns of 20,000 or less into separate districts. The goal is to create segregated Hispanic districts to ensure a Hispanic majority on city councils etc.

    Problem in my city is that there are no Hispanic neighborhoods. There is one mostly White neighborhood, but the rest of the city is totally mixed between Hispanic and White. Furthermore, most of the Hispanics are illegal farm workers. Many don’t even speak Spanish let alone English as they are Indians.

    Of course dividing the town into separate council districts will cost a lot of tax payers money for nothing. The Feds are trolling for Hispanics who are eligible to vote and run for office and speak enough English to run but they are having problems.

    Never fear, in about 10 years the numerous anchor babies will be old enough to vote and run for office. Then both Compton and other small cities will see a takeover of the city councils by 25 year old anchor babies shoved into office by the Feds.

    I always love to see the feds using Hispanics to do to the blacks what the feds did to the Whites 40 years ago.

  • Anonymous

    Seems the Justice Department and EEOC are doing to Compton what they did to the Post Office, bus agencies and every state, federal and local government agency. They replaced the favored affirmative action blacks with Hispanics and any other non White third world immigrant they could find.

    What goes around comes around. Whites out ,blacks in, blacks out Hispanics in. Where will it end.

  • white is right, black is whack

    Guess what, black people? We don’t want to give up power to you either as we have for the past 50 years, but you call us racists and bigots all the time. You force us to associate with you, brainwash our children into worshipping you, brainwash our young adults into dating you, yet you want to keep your culture and neighborhood and everything ‘black.’ You cheer on Hispanics to displace whites, while wanting us to feel sorry for you when you are getting displaced by Hispanics. You want the Hispanics to team up with you against the white man, yet you want us to be concerned with you getting displaced by Hispanics? You attack us, our kids, our elderly, but want us to shed a tear when you blacks are the victims of racial violence by Hispanics?

  • Pedo Viejo

    I was raised in SoCA, and have watched as Compton went from a nice white suburb community to a hellhole of black dominance, and now to a shared black and brown war zone. I wouldn’t willingly go within 10 miles of Compton today. My best friend was raised there, but her family finally saw the “darkening” of the light and got out. I can’t imagine CARING about who runs Compton – they’d be ruling over a pile with stick houses all over it. This is just one more example of how great the advantages of multiculturalism are.

  • Anonymous

    Twenty years ago, the rap group NWA (an acronym for N****z Wit Attitudez) released “Straight Outta Compton,” an almost inconceivably violent album. Now the Mexicans have come along to ensure, through violence, that the “N****z” are indeed getting Straight Outta Compton.

  • Who In Their White Mind?

    Yep, like so many other posters, I smile when I see a Mestizo takeover of a former black population. Couldn’t happen to a better community. Maybe in Europe, they could recruit Central & S. Americans to weed put the Middle Easterners & sub-Asian Muslims. That would be a good day. I agree with the others on this board. When it comes down to it, a Mexican is a better choice because at least their language is indigenous to our heritage continent, yhat being Europe.

  • NAVY

    The terrorist gangs and La Raza merged ideologically in a long term journey to overtake swaths of California.

    These are the same people president Bush Jr. assured America had strong family values.

    Bush once labeled white America El Stupidos for whites inability to keep him from deceiving them.

  • Antidote

    All power to the People of Colour collective! World solidarity with the People of Colour collective! Smash racism! Smash the racist apartheid state!……except in L.A.

    I agree with everything in the article, but one inconvenient truth wasn’t mentioned: The blacks of Compton are going, but exactly where? They’re not simply evaporating; they’re moving either back to the south or to new, all white areas to parasitize.

    I understand there was a big public hospital in L.A. which was opened specifically for the blacks that they robbed, looted, and ran down, until the Hispanics wrested it from them and brought it back to viability.

  • Daniel Williams

    Did anyone else notice how poorly the original article was written? It reads like an article in a college newspaper.

  • Nathaniel Branden, Jr.

    One of my residences is in LA and on a recent visit to South Central including Watts and Compton I saw very few Blacks.

    It is closer to 90% Latino but unfortunately they have gangs

    that are as bad as the black ones that used to dominate.

    In the 50s and 60s Compton was a nice white suburb, then the

    black plague started around 1969.

    Latinos work harder than blacks and are more intelligent AND

    produce even more kids so the black future in LA is grim.

    In fact blacks are only 6% of California now as compared with 18%

    in Maryland and 36% in Mississipi. They are returning to the south in large numbers. Some are moving to better areas in LA.

    Even in Oakland, near my other residence, they are now down to 29% from over 50% as recently as 1985. So Black To The Future is now an oxymoron instead of a 60s slogan.

    Cheer up, Whitey, the better days may still be ahead.

  • Anonymous

    I hope there is a huge race riot. I hope that the National Guard is Federalized and troops step in to ‘restore order’. Because-

    1. It will prove that racism crosses all boundaries and is just the act of protecting your own from outsiders. Endogroup/Exogroup, all is fair in love and race war. Especially when people start asking for green cards and birth certificates and most cannot provide them.

    2. Because as soon as you get The Feds in the door, the bills will start to add up. Which will mean California will have to cough, hard, or be put under the equivalent of Chapter 13. And that will send California right over the edge, just like those old movies where ‘the Big One’ tilts the whole mess into the ocean.

    At that point, it will be clear that the USG cannot save us from our racial troubles and -tryiing to- will impose such onerous burdens of taxation and monetary leveling (think EU and everybody trying to meet the minimums after The Wall came down) that it will become easier and easier to say ‘No thanks!’ in a way that drives the stake right into the vampire’s heart.

    Secession after Secession. Refusing to pay for other people’s bankruptcy -and- ‘multi cultural enrichment’.

  • Superman

    When you’re in a battle for your existence as a culture, anything goes. Too bad it’s going to be too late before the majority of white people figure that one out.

  • Anonymous

    Mexicans have been rousting the blacks out of the major metro areas for awhile now — kind of what they did to whites some years ago.

    As they say, what comes around goes around.

    The Mexicans/Hispanics will eventually prevail. Look out Maxine Waters!

  • Mason

    blacks are in for a Very Rude Awakening and very soon.

    If blacks really want to know what True Racism is wait until the Hispanics are in charge.

    The blacks will pray for the return of the white mans power because hispanics won’t put up with a blacks foolishness>

  • Anonymous

    Several years ago, what was at the time the largest and most violent hispanic gang in Compton, Varrio Tortilla Flats, began a “race war” against blacks in the area, attacking both gang members and “civilians.” Unfortunately for them, they bit off a little more than could chew, as most of the Compton Bloods/Piru sets united to destroy them. They were hunted in the streets and even guys who had gotten out of prison trying to change their lives were executed upon being discovered to have been affiliated with the gang. T-Flats is a memory in Compton today, but still respected by hispanics for their aggressiveness in fighting blacks (although to be fair, they had many hispanic enemies as well!).

  • margaret

    This could be the reason why the feds are so anxious that Mexicans take over the city council; to absolve blacks from blame when the city finally goes bankrupt.

    Layoffs are likely in Compton as auditor questions city’s solvency

    An independent auditor reports ‘substantial doubt’ about whether Compton can remain solvent. The council approves layoffs to combat budget deficit.

    May 26, 2011|By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times

    An independent auditing firm has concluded that Compton’s budget crisis is so dire that it’s an open question whether the city can remain solvent.

    The auditor’s report was made public as the Compton City Council struggles to deal with a fiscal crisis, voting this week to lay off employees. Though city officials did not say how many layoffs would occur, union representatives said they had heard estimates of between 97 and 120. The city budgeted for 575 employees in the current year.

    In a strongly worded report accompanying the city’s newly released financial statements from last year, the auditing firm said there was “substantial doubt about the city’s ability to continue as a going concern” because of the swelling deficit.

    The city’s surplus, which three years ago totaled $11.8 million, has been drained. And the city faces a total general fund deficit of $25 million — $9 million of that accrued in the current fiscal year — with no reserves.

    Additionally, the city has run up a $19-million deficit in its liability fund, which has been borrowing from the general fund. The council voted Tuesday to use redevelopment funds to pay down 40% of the debt.

    Outside experts said Compton’s situation appears grim.

    “We’re not only underwater; we’re below the pool…. This is uncharted territory,” said Steve Erie, a UC San Diego political science professor with a specialty in local government.

    But City Manager Willie Norfleet said it’s premature to believe the city will go bankrupt, adding that he hopes cutbacks can keep the city afloat.

    “When one says, ‘We question if you’ll make it,’ that’s only if you don’t do anything,” Norfleet said.

    The city plans to slash its budget to $44 million next year, from $58 million. At that level, Norfleet said, projected revenues will support expenditures. He also anticipated that revenues will pick up in June, the last month of the fiscal year.

    Employees will probably be hit first. In a move to pave the way for the drastic cuts, the Compton City Council on Tuesday authorized the city manager to go forward with an unspecified number of job cuts, with layoff slips likely to be issued by June 1. Managers have been meeting with the unions representing city employees to explore alternatives to cutting jobs, but Norfleet said that with personnel costs making up 44% of the general fund budget, he saw no way to avoid layoffs.