South LA? Or South Central?
I was born and raised here.
South Central. South Los Angeles. This place. But for a while, I didn’t know what to call it.
Growing up, I heard my parents, teachers, and even the news called this region “South Central.”
And then the news and politicians shifted and called this place “South LA,“ but it kept all of the same stereotypes.
So, I decided to dig into it.
I’m Eric Craig and this is the very first blog entry of The South LA Recap, a visual and written documentation of South LA.
But in this 4-part particular series in the South LA Recap, we’re looking at the origin of the name of this region and why—and if—it even matters. In this first part, I pull from the perspective of locals. In the second part, we’ll dive into the history of the region, in the third part, we’ll do some textual analysis, and we’ll conclude with judgement in the fourth part.
Now, just a disclaimer don’t jump to any conclusions about this South LA or South Central debate because of this website’s name. I named this project before I even took on this series.
I first tested the waters on Facebook. First I asked people on my timeline, and, well I’m not that popular, and neither is Facebook with my generation, nonetheless I got some interesting responses. Out of 10 comments, 8 preferred South Central, and only two preferred South LA.
One person posted an image that reads “If you call it “South LA” and not ‘South Central’ you’re a cop or a gentrifier. Fight me. You’ll lose.”
And another person said “South central but gentry love to call it south Los Angeles.” So, I apologize in advance if my blog is real gentry. I don’t want it to be, promise.
I also polled members of several groups local to the area about the appropriate name for the area. In one private group, out of 68 participants, 41 people preferred South LA and the remaining 27 preferred South Central.
One person wrote: It’s been South LA to me for almost 20 years. I remember when Council voted on it many years ago to change the name to get away from the negative connotation some thought the name held.
Another Facebook user wrote: People I’ve talked to who have lived West of the 110 for decades use “South Central” for east of the 110. How have you seen the term “South LA” relate to gentrification? I don’t doubt it outright but that is surprising to me because I haven’t heard “South LA” as a hip rebranding – it feels like the more local neighborhood terms like “Leimert Park” and “West Adams” are the hip names. But I don’t really know people outside of South LA who talk about it so I’m sure there’s lots I don’t know.
Like these friendly people of the internet, you’ve either clung to one or the other —if you live here or not. Subconsciously or not.
And, well, I’m here to tell you that only people on both sides are, well, right. I’ll explain this in the next few episodes in this series. In the very next episode we’ll look at the history of the region, and one neighborhood that serves as the namesake for this entire region.
Do you have something to add? Drop it down in the comments below.