The once-Black enclave has been transformed into a plurally Latino community. This brings a new identity to the city, and presents new challenges.
INGLEWOOD (Calif.) – Before Inglewood, in Los Angeles International Airport’s shadows, is the center stage of Super Bowl Sunday. The midsize city was the quiet centre for one California’s most important demographic transitions.
Inglewood’s Black to Latino shift coincides the dramatic California change, where Latinos now make up 39 percent of the population. Whites are next at 36 percent, followed closely by Asians at 15 percent, and Black people at 6 percent.
“The story of Inglewood now reflects the changing demography in the state of California, and Los Angeles County,” stated Mark Hugo Lopez (a native of Southern California), director of race- and ethnicity research at Pew Research Center.
Christian Martin smiled and walked 2 miles to SoFi Stadium. He was reciting his favorites from Martin’s Cocina y Cantina which he and his family own in Inglewood.
Martin’s parents, who immigrated from Mexico as children, now live in California for more years than their time in Mexico.
After realizing they couldn’t afford Santa Monica, they settled in Inglewood in 1980. They also owned a small market.
Instead, they looked south towards Inglewood instead, a former white enclave which later became a haven to Black families, before becoming a major Latino city in recent decades.
Martin stated that in the past, Mexican food was only available in Venice or South L.A. “There wasn’t anywhere to go. It didn’t even exist.”
After the Watts riots of 1965, Inglewood was renamed as an African American community. This happened because many Black residents moved from Los Angeles to Inglewood.
Inglewood was known as the City of Champions due to its rich sports history. It became a popular landing spot for California’s growing Latino population around the turn of this century.
Inglewood’s Latino population grew around 2000, thanks to its affordable housing and easy access four major freeways that connect Inglewood to Los Angeles, downtown Los Angeles, and the docks at Long Beach and San Pedro. At that time, the Black population dropped to 46.4 per cent and the city’s Latino population was approximately 43 percent.
According to census data, April, the most recent, the community moved toward Latino majority. However, 50.6 percent of the population is Latino.
Lopez stated that “When people think about Inglewood, it is the stories of African Americans coming out of Inglewood.” “But Inglewood’s demography has changed over the past few years. It’s a place where Latinos make up the largest single group of Inglewood residents.
Together, Blacks and Latinos account for more than 90% of all residents. Two Black members and two Latinos make up the City Council. James T. Butts is a South Los Angeles native and boasts that Inglewood serves a blueprint to a more diverse country and state.
Butts said that the new Inglewood looked like a city of equity, for people who have been long forgotten,” NBC News reported.
However, Inglewood’s population growth has not been without its challenges.
More than 100 Ku Klux Klan members attacked a Spanish family at night in April 1922. Two teenage girls were forced to change and beat their father and uncle. The Los Angeles Times archived its coverage of the hate group.
One month prior, Klansmen in hooded suits marched through Inglewood’s cemetery to pay respects to a deceased member.
Inglewood was an agricultural hub that was rapidly expanding at the time. According to the newspaper, signs were placed declaring that the area was “Caucasian-only.”
Inglewood was settled by black families decades after white supremacists had terrorized residents they considered undesirable.
This shift was triggered by riots that broke out in Watts, Georgia in August 1965. More than 30 people were killed and more than 1,000 were injured. Six days of unrest began when a white officer stopped two stepbrothers who were Black.
Inglewood saw a period in growth between the 1960s and 1970s. It took on a metropolitan appearance with new high-rise buildings, and a modern civic centre.
Mayor Butts spoke out about the city’s demographic shift, saying that they didn’t call it gentrification but integration.
Irma Munoz, an Inglewood native, felt like she was not welcome at that moment.
Munoz and her family stopped at a restaurant one day to get dinner. Her father, a Mexican immigrant, ordered dinner. He didn’t return 15 minutes later.
Munoz’s mother was worried and asked her daughter to check on him.
Munoz recalls Munoz standing silently in the restaurant. Munoz inquired why he hadn’t ordered yet. The cashier said that she didn’t know Munoz was a customer. She assumed he was a waiter waiting for the restaurant’s closing to get to work.
Later Munoz’s mom informed Munoz that her husband was Mexican and she was concerned.
Munoz, president and CEO of Mujeres de la Tierra (a non-profit organization that addresses climate change and social issues), said, “That was the first moment it was obvious to me that that I was mexicana”
She said it was an isolated incident and that Inglewood is now a multicultural, multiethnic community.
She said, “If there was anything negative that happened, I don’t remember it.” It was a time when there was innocence and security. We had a milkman and a house baker. It was peaceful.
The city’s long-standing African American population influenced every aspect of its life. It produced a number of high-flight athletes such as Lisa Leslie and Byron Scott. Tina Thompson and Elden Camp as well as a host pro football players and entertainers like Tyra Banks or R&B singer Omarion.
Butts stated that it also provided opportunities for the creation of generational wealth in communities previously excluded from real estate through redlining or other exclusionary practices.
Inglewood’s Black population isn’t shrinking as fast as in San Francisco.
After it was at minimum 10 percent in the census count from 1960 to 1990, Northern California’s tech hub has now fallen to 5.6 percent Black.
was influenced by the changing demographic to make the critically-acclaimed film “The last black man in San Francisco”.
Lopez stated that he does not foresee Inglewood’s Black population dropping dramatically in the coming years, despite being hesitant to guess.
It’s not San Francisco, it’s Inglewood. Lopez stated that it’s not Los Angeles, as the city. Inglewood has one of those long-standing African American communities that is still a significant portion of the population.