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SAYING GOODBYE TO FLORENCE/GRAHAM


I grew up in the Florence/Graham area of unincorporated Los Angeles, California. The area is just under 3.6 square miles and is surrounded by Watts, South Gate, and Huntington Park. My parents came to the area in the 1960s from the South during the great migration, like most of the other Black families in the area. Whites were moving out as Blacks moved in. The neighborhood was comprised of working-class folks who struggled to make ends meet. They worked hard, hung out with friends and family on weekends, and went to church on Sundays. Growing up in a predominantly Black neighborhood where kids played outside and used their imagination to entertain themselves has given me fond memories. We played games outside until we had to run home before the streetlights came on and got in trouble for following the crowd when we should have known better.


The Florence/Graham area today looks nothing like where I grew up. Almost everything about it is different. A few Black families remain, but now the neighborhood is mostly Hispanic. The last time I drove past my childhood home, I felt like a stranger in a strange land. It felt like the newcomers had invaded the spaces where my memories lived and physically removed evidence that my family, neighbors, and I were ever there. The landscape had changed, and I didn’t like the change. I didn’t like the crowded streets, with parked cars on both sides and cars hanging out of driveways. I didn’t like the Mexican market that had replaced the Jewish market or the street vendors pushing their carts down the street. I didn’t like that I couldn’t see myself with my mom, dad, and siblings in the front yard, mowing the grass and pulling weeds on a Saturday morning. It took me a minute to realize that what I really didn’t like was that the people who made it anywhere we were home were gone. My childhood was gone. The house I grew up in was still in the same place but was home to someone else. My home was not a physical place anymore, and perhaps it never was. The sound of my mother’s voice and the crazy stuff my father said and did will forever be with me. I only have to be still and remember them to go back home. The neighborhood where I rode my bike around, trick-or-treated in, played in the vacant field on the corner, and fought kids in the alley in the back of our house is no longer my neighborhood. I don’t live there anymore, and it doesn't exist as it once did, but in my heart, it always will, and I can go there whenever I want.


My upcoming book, “Rolling In The Deep,” is a journey through time and emotions. It is set in my beloved neighborhood, spanning the years from 1964 to 2010, and reflecting on its evolving landscape. The heart of the book focuses on love and its many forms, which are intricately woven around a mystery and a touch of the supernatural. Writing this book has been a joy, and I am eager to share it with you, hoping that you will find it as captivating as I do.


"Rolling In The Deep," to be published this summer.

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