The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Racism and Homelessness in Los Angeles

Sep 16, 2019

Black people form 9% of the population in Los Angeles County, but 40% of its homeless population, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Four dozen homeless black people living in a flotilla of tents under a bridge of the Ronald Reagan Freeway in Pacoima starkly demonstrate how racism and capitalism pushed them there.

Many black people migrated to Los Angeles during and after the Second World War to flee lynchings and Jim Crow laws, poverty and the harsh conditions of sharecropping in the South. They found better paying jobs at large companies like General Motors and Lockheed Martin.

But they were locked out of most neighborhoods by racist covenants. Pacoima was one of the few Los Angeles suburbs where black people could buy a house. The homeless people living under the bridge used to live in homes that their parents bought there in the 1950s and '60s.

After General Motors and Lockheed Martin shut down their plants and laid off their workers, many black people could not find jobs that paid enough for them to afford their houses. Some moved to other neighborhoods, but many lost their homes as a result. “Workforce redlining, housing redlining have systemically displaced us,” said Suzette Shaw, a skid row activist.

Now, the city is continuously pushing the homeless away from populated areas. That’s how these people ended up under the bridge.

The black population built the original wealth of this country through slavery, and continued to increase it through their work over the centuries, in L.A. and elsewhere. Every single one of their descendants has earned the right to a home – unlike the rich investors who inherited the wealth and privilege that has allowed them to buy up L.A.’s luxury apartments!