By Hipolito Munoz, Managing Editor/Publisher
The 1980’s left a terrible mark on the Los Angeles communities of color. Right before the 1984 Olympics, a BBC crew came and shot a documentary called “Real Lives: Gang City.”
As we reviewed the documentary film, those of us that lived in the areas that they highlight, I understand now, how folks from outside of Los Angeles would create or imagine some of the violent and dreary stories that they saw on TV and their local cinema could be based on life in the inner city. I am sure that there were some decent folks in a city that numbered 3,485,398 in the 1980 census in a county that counted 7.74 million, but that was not the point of the doc. The film does evidence the obvious separation that all entities that are in the circle of violence; from those that are in “the life,” to the families and of course to the Police that protected the society which does not seem to exist. As the Latino population expanded throughout LA County, away from East Los Angeles, the African American population felt the pressure of the racism that these newcomers brought with them. If the families were moving from East Los Angeles to escape gang violence, some of their siblings brought with them their fear and anger, especially if they had been in prison, a place that fostered racism as a safety precaution.
This irresponsible “documentary” has a terrible bias. Anyone viewing this would be terrified to visit Los Angeles, and especially those areas that would be considered a nest of criminals. Like where I grew up. I was a teenager at the time they filmed this, living in an area that they highlighted.
Documentary filmmaking is a terrific and can also be terrible medium. In a city like Los Angeles, you most certainly will find what you are hoping to find. This film is an example of many of the documentaries that were presented to the world for others to view Los Angeles. Los Angeles is a huge city, it has always been very cosmopolitan with many triumphs and many issues. This documentary seems to say that the issue at the time was black and brown, and the solution was to fight it with a fist. To this day in Los Angeles you will find violence, hope, and despair, and joy… you just need to pick your focus.