Selfie of White Runners in Black Neighborhood Sets Off Debate

It was the selfie that set Leimert Park talking.

There was DeMille Halliburton, his arm outstretched in the foreground, shooting a photo of the Saturday running group the African American entertainment industry insurer has long organized.

Behind him stood eight white neighbors, smiling under a sunny sky, a few holding on to their dogs’ leashes. Tucked in the very back were two black runners.

The photo Halliburton uploaded that day in October set off a storm of debate in Leimert Park, a middle-class, traditionally African American neighborhood.

The photo generated numerous comments on social media, with many expressing concerns about what they saw as the neighborhood’s changing demographics. For some blacks, the photo was a symbol of how they were losing clout in the neighborhood amid rising home values.

Another image sparked similar Internet debate. A resident posted a picture from the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza shopping center’s website showing four white women piled in a car, presumably going to or coming from the mall.

Los Angeles’ African American population has been declining for more than two decades. Latinos now make up the majority in many working-class South L.A. neighborhoods. Leimert Park, nestled at the foot of the Baldwin Hills, has long been home to many of L.A’s African American elites. It’s seeing big changes, with two new light rail lines running through and interest from whites priced out of neighborhoods to the north.

“It’s almost like Leimert Park is the last battleground,” said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable. “It’s the last piece of turf that African Americans can really call and really feel is their home. At this point in time, it’s being encroached upon.”

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Source: Los Angeles Times | Angel Jennings