Popular Discourse on Watts

The view of Watts that I originally had, which I still have, presupposes that people are generally good. It wasn't there in my particular context this past Sunday.

However, once in a while that positive view of places like Watts re-surfaces when pitted against an outsider view that carelessly slaps tired old stereotypes on those places like Watts, the people of Watts, the things of Watts. Places, people, things that they are disconnected from and more than likely don't understand but will poke fun at it from a safe distance.

My original view woke up in response to a careless throwaway post on LA Metblogs.

Today, Antonio Villaraigosa announces his $5-billion plan to build housing for the poor and middle class. The Times gives us a quick rundown of what this plan will include, like more mixed income housing along the Metro Gold and Expo Lines.

It will also include this nugget:

Redeveloping the Jordan Downs housing project in Watts into a mixed-income housing development with some units for very poor people and some units of market-rate housing.

If you happen to be one of the candidates looking for market-rate housing, and should you decide to relocate to a swanky new loft at the Jordan Downs projects development, might I recommend an affiliation with the hometown 103rd Grape Street Watts Baby Loc Crips?

There are jokes. And then there is nervous laughter which desperately tries to act like a joke.

There was no reason that I targeted him, just his post as a representative of typical blathering white guy speech.

Sure, he speaks snarkily to A "reality", that no one will want to live where a Housing Project was.

However, location with ties to "bad" pasts never stopped The Belmont Lofts on Lucas St. in Downtown LA from going up.

Developments, urban design, and the way communites are set up are a purely artifical "reality." One completely started up, fabricated by people. By definition that means people can change it.

What bugs me is that he speaks to a determinism, a hegemony, which he has no idea of, but only to judge from afar like good old father white boy.

He jokes as if it's some kind of unspoken law of nature that nothing positive is ever bound to happen in Watts: no one will ever buy homes in Watts, not at a former housing development, and not at market rate. The whole joke is exactly that...redevelopment won't succeed. Why? It's not really clear why, but there's absolutely no reason to expect it to. Ever. According to the logic that pervades such a thoughtless post.

I like how he throws in this gang like he's on the inside of what's happenin'.

Granted, I don't know anything, but I don't and won't pretend I do. Whatever Watts is, and/or will become is dependent on people. Not individuals, mind you, but people in the community, people controlling the developments around. The milieu of people in and around Watts.

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