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Be Careful: Your Strategy Is Showing

LA Times triumphantly declares ‘Racism is the reason Black people are disproportionately homeless in L.A., report shows’ 

By Todd Cunningham, LA CAN

June 2020


When you see it in print, you can almost feel the giddiness, the sense of self-congratulations that the writer and LA Times’ management must have felt when they agreed on the headline.  This is the perfect headline to help the throngs of protesters from the last couple of weeks feel good about the almost magical, almost unbelievable world in which ‘anti-racism’ is the bright, shiny new object.


Now there’s a certain level of satisfaction having empirical data underscore and amplify the messages that LA CAN and other organizations have known for many years but no one seemed to want to listen.  We have long known the impacts of red-lining and segregation on the economic well-being of Black people. We are  well-versed in the devastation caused by industrialization. We have intimate knowledge of the generational effects of the ”war on drugs.” And we have carried the crushing weight of criminalization and incarceration, a by-product of ”asset stripping,” which has torn families and communities apart. Their brief summary is in need of some important historical context and at least a mention of other key findings from this year’s study.  


Once the right headline was selected, it appears that scrutiny and curiosity have little value going forward.  Not to worry, we will ask the question on the minds of those really paying attention: Why ever compare 2020 performance data to 2015 performance data? We hadn’t even heard of Proposition H and HHH back then…2015 is the equivalent to a lifetime ago.

Additional important analyses we will be following as data is released in the coming days: what the hardship of houselessness for women looks like, turning the spotlight on this report’s assessment of the city’s performance when it comes to access to affordable housing. Now, back to that declaration that ‘racism is the reason for homelessness among Black people’. There is a related takeaway being made in this year’s Homeless Report.  It states that ‘…without institutional racism, there would be 15,000 fewer people experiencing houselessness’. Linking this headline to this observation has game-changing potential with many proponents and opponents alike.  From there, the power rests in the hands of the people as it makes its way into conversations at the beach, in nail salons, at bowling alleys, at synagogues and churches, in the locker room, at the country club and countless places we all have been longing to get back to so we can discuss and debate about things that really matter.

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