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L.A. Youth Set the Record Straight About South L.A. Stereotypes

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Photo by jorizaga via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr

Photo by jorizaga via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
L.A. Youth, the 1988-founded newspaper by and about teens in Los Angeles, yesterday came out with an article featuring students from English classes at Locke High School #3 in Watts. The assignment was to "write about growing up in South Central L.A. to show people what their lives are really like."

15-year-old Yesenia Reyes was in Marina Del Rey when "group of white guys gawking at her] like [she] was an unknown species." Afterwards, one came up to apologize and introduced himself. But then:

After I told him I was from South Central, he asked me if I wanted to go smoke weed with him. “Of course not. I never have,” I responded. He looked confused.

“I thought that you smoked. I thought that every Mexican in South Central smoked,” he said. I was hurt, but I just smiled and bit my tongue. I didn’t want to argue with a stranger. Besides, I wanted to be nice to him so that maybe I could change his mind about “Mexicans.” (I’m actually Salvadorian.)

Frank Reed, 16:
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I want to walk past a police officer without getting judged as a criminal because of my skin color. And I want to be able to walk around my neighborhood and wear whatever colors I want without being stereotyped as a gang member or a drug dealer. I’m not either of those things. I want to go to college, I want to study to become a lawyer and someday, a judge.

L.A. Youth editors worked with the students to adapt their stories for publish. Also of interest are teen reactions to the U.S. Census' race question.