This is the ninth in a series about the continuing disappearance of whites from American cities (see our earlier entries for Birmingham, Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, Richmond, Milwaukee, Baltimore, and Philadelphia). Many people still pretend that The Great Replacement is a myth or a conspiracy theory, but the graphs that accompany each article in this series prove them wrong. Every city has a different story but all have seen a dramatic replacement of whites by minorities.
Los Angeles is falling apart. The homicide rate is the highest it’s been in a decade. NBC 4 reported in October that there are trash piles in the streets, maggots in the buildings, and homeless camps overflowing with filth. Typhus and other “medieval diseases” have broken on in tent-city slums. Los Angeles is a leftist city, but it has the seventh-highest income inequality of the country’s 150 largest metro regions. In 2017, “The Advancement Project,” a leftist group, found massive racial inequality in Los Angeles and throughout the state. “If we don’t solve these disparities, California is going to decline,” said the group’s executive director. California has already declined.
More than any other state, California was the American dream. It was where people went to find gold in the 19th century or jobs during the Depression. Today, most Californians think their children will not do as well in life as they did. Whites were the most pessimistic group.
Movies and entertainment shape reality, and Los Angeles is the center of those industries. One could argue that Los Angeles is the most important city in the country, if not the world, in terms of cultural power. Its fate is crucial.
Yes, Los Angeles was almost monolithically white and lost its white majority — but that’s a common story. Los Angeles was proudly middle-class, almost idyllic. The Bush family lived in Compton. The Chamber of Commerce used to call it an “Ideal Home City.” L.A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Present, notes that as late as 1948, fewer than 50 blacks lived in Compton. Whites are now 1.1 percent of the population.
Modern Los Angeles wasn’t built by immigrants but by Americans. Obviously, after the Spanish settled, it was a Hispanic city until the transcontinental railroads brought new settlers. They were mostly American-born whites from the northeast and Midwest. Los Angeles “boosters” promoted the city up until the late 1920s, and they did not want non-whites. One publication from 1894 called Los Angeles “the most thoroughly” American city in the country, with “no distinctly foreign element, except the Chinese, and only a few of them.” Joel Kotkin, who reliably boosts “diversity” and white dispossession, wrote that pre-World War II “sophisticates” had “scorn” for the city because it was so Middle American.
Even when Los Angeles was overwhelmingly white, whites and non-whites still fought. It’s also questionable whether all those “whites” were really white. The Census Bureau called Hispanics white until 1930; that year it discovered 97,116 Mexicans living in Los Angeles — double the black population. However, Mexican-American activist groups successfully worked to get themselves labeled “white” again for the next decennial census, so we don’t know the total for 1940.
We do know that there was already a Hispanic youth subculture. For example, Los Angeles was still well over 90 percent white at the time of the famous “Zoot Suit” riots in which American servicemen fought young Hispanics. The Los Angeles Times said the “Zoot Suit” favored by young Mexicans was a “badge of delinquency” and that “organized bands of marauders” were terrifying citizens. I leave it to the reader to judge whether the paper was more truthful in 1943 than it is today.
Some things never change. In 1946, blacks were about 7 percent of the population but were 46 percent of public housing applicants. Some wealthy blacks were already moving into the affluent Sugar Hill neighborhood by the late 1940s, though whites resented them. After World War II, whites sued other whites who sold their homes to blacks, but the state Supreme Court ruled in 1947 that “restrictive covenants” were unenforceable. Part of the justification offered by the Judge Stanley Mosk was that “our nation just fought the Nazi race superiority doctrines.” In 1948, the US Supreme Court outlawed “restrictive covenants” throughout the country, and Los Angeles began losing its white supermajority soon afterward. In 1940, Los Angeles had 63,700 blacks; in 1970, it had 763,000.
In 1964, blacks in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles rioted for six days after police pulled over a black man for drunk driving. Incredibly, just as in Philadelphia that same year, blacks spread rumors that police attacked a pregnant woman. Chief William Parker, who coined the phrase “thin blue line,” said suppressing the riot was “very much like fighting the Viet Cong.” The riots cost 36 lives and about $40 million in property damage. Some people call the riot the “Watts rebellion.” The 1992 Los Angeles riot is also sometimes called an “uprising.”
The 1964 riots prompted white flight, but not right away. The white majority declined from 83 percent to 61 percent between 1960 and 1970. During that same time, the total number of white people in the city increased by more than 100,000. However, between 1966 and 1970, the Los Angeles United School District lost more than 80,000 white students. Whites didn’t want to attend desegregated schools, especially in the midst of racial tensions. Not surprisingly, the nearly all-white population of nearby Orange County filled up with refugees from Los Angeles; its population more than doubled from 1960 to 1970. By 1980, the white population of Los Angeles had declined to less than 1,850,000, and it was a white-minority city.
The final blows to Los Angeles’s white population came with the far more destructive 1992 Los Angeles riots. This time, the media incited blacks, rather than blacks inciting themselves. When a jury found that police officers who subdued a high-on-PCP Rodney King with batons committed no crime, blacks attacked non-blacks. When today’s BLM protesters stop cars and intimidate drivers, I think of the infamous video of blacks smashing the head of white truck-driver Reginald Denny. The famous “roof Koreans” armed themselves to defend their stores from looters.
By this point, Los Angeles had become synonymous with black crime, especially because of the crack trade. The founders of the Bloods and Crips were from Los Angeles. N.W.A., which took gangsta rap mainstream, came out of Los Angeles. Films including Boyz n the Hood, Menace II Society, South Central and other movies established a new genre, a black version of Mafia films like The Godfather. The very words “Compton” and “South Central” evoked black gangs warring in the ghetto.
This image doesn’t represent Los Angeles today. Blacks are less than 10 percent of the population, and whites are gentrifying the city. Interestingly, blacks began leaving after the 1992 riots, and those who have stayed are reportedly telling each other not to sell houses to non-blacks. “White return,” wrote an author for the website Los Angeleno, poses a “real existential threat.” Whites who tried to save Compton in the 1940s and 1950s made similar appeals to racial solidarity, but once again, we see politics is not about what, but who. When blacks integrate a neighborhood, it is a triumph and anyone who objects is a bigot. When whites move back, non-whites can tell them to stay away.
However, the major trend is the increase in Hispanics. Los Angeles is less than 30 percent white and is about half Hispanic. Whites don’t want to think about how much the city has become part of the Third World, with its attendant tribalism. Even the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in 2007 on Hispanics’ “ethnic cleansing” of blacks. In 2018, a gang used a firebomb attack to drive blacks out of a housing development. It would be wrong to say there’s a broad campaign to expel blacks, but violently or not, Hispanics are pushing blacks out. Los Angeles isn’t the (however unedifying) black cultural center it was 30 years ago.
Despite this, political debate in the city revolves around Black Lives Matter. The newly elected and Soros-funded LA District Attorney, George Gascón, is cutting jail sentences, ending cash bail for non-violent crimes, and promises never to seek the death penalty, no matter how gruesome the crime. Elite private academies such as Brentwood School and Harvard Westlake are revamping the curricula to emphasize “equity and inclusion.” Joe Biden is reportedly considering Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti for a cabinet position, even though many progressives oppose him because he hasn’t done enough for the homeless or to stop “police violence.”
BLM is unlikely to bring blacks back to Los Angeles; the pressure from Hispanics is too great. Hispanics could develop a BLM movement of their own, built around ethnic interests. What’s clear is that barring radical change, the only whites with a future in Los Angeles are the millionaires in the Hollywood Hills and a few hardy gentrifiers. We’ll see how long they hold out.