I grew up here. In this very neighborhood. 108th and Hoover, to be exact. This was the late 1980s, early 90s. Those who know this place intimately still refer to it as South Central, Los Angeles. Newcomers, developers, and those who mistakenly believe it to be, however illogically, a subset of both Compton and Inglewood, know it as South Los Angeles. Whatever you call it, this is my home.
My parents and their families emigrated here from Dangriga, Belize in the mid 1970s and I was born not long after in 1985. For about 40 years, my maternal grandparents lived in a modest apartment just three blocks away from where I sit, writing. After many years away, I made the conscious choice to return, and set up and maintain a studio in my mother’s garage. Manchester Ave. is my main vein; Vermont Ave. is my main artery. 76th and Western is my heart. These idyllic lawn-sprawled territories are the settings for many of my earliest memories and the people who inhabit these lands are the imagined “We,” “Us,” and “Our” of my artistic declarations.
This morning, I learned that Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of all charges relating to the murder of Philando Castile.
I wonder exactly when the children playing in the backyard next door will begin to realize that this world—their world—so seemingly expansive, so limitless, will view their very presence within it a most threatening one; a presence that is to be approached with caution, interrogated, and feared. When do the yells and cries of skinned-knees and play, transition into the debilitating wails that the adults in their lives know too well?
I wonder if this will be a precise moment for each of these kids, or if the conditioning is already well under way, being finely tuned down here near 76th and Western where we all dream the dream where we’re flying. Where their rectangular patch of grass lassoed by a wooden fence does not feel like a container but rather a sanctuary. A place ripe with curiosity and wonder and imaginative possibility. A place where their current game of “Mommies and Monsters” (in which the mothers have to save the babies from the monsters) is, unbeknown to them, too eerily accurate. A place where survival is magic and resilience is the native tongue.
I will not be marching in the streets today. Or tomorrow. I am still heartbroken and exhausted from the last time. From all of the times. My direct action will be that of a continued and deliberate presence next door to my neighbors and their children, a living example of an alternative narrative, authoring beauty from my own sanctuary within a neighborhood that has been a haven under fire for as long as I can remember, imagining and actively working toward more illuminated futures for all of “Us.”
EJ Hill is an artist from South Central, Los Angeles.
This is the first in a series of X-TRAonline Summer Reading, a letter drafted on June 17, 2017. Look forward to more from EJ and our summer columnists in the coming months.
Screening and Conversation with Aria Dean, Erin Chrisotvale, and Ulysses Jenkins
CALL FOR INTERNS
grantLOVE x Alisa Ratner prints to benefit X-TRA
X-TRA presents ARTISTS’ BOOKS CHANGE LIVES at LAABF 2017
X-TRA Spring Launch Event: The Heart and the Halt
A letter from home
ARTIST WRITES Lecture #1
Immaterials and Proposals at the LA Art Book Fair
MEET & GREET 2016
LA in the AUGHTS: Benefit Auction and Party for X-TRA
X-TRA Spring Launch!
Call for submissions
X-TRA Editions: MARK HAGEN
Summer Launch: Hole Up with
X-TRA & Mark Hagen at ARTBOOK
Walkthrough of Barbara Kasten: Stages with Susanna Newbury
X-TRA at NY ART BOOK FAIR
Art Book Fair in Chinatown
X-TRA Fall Launch with Sarah Conaway, Travis Diehl and Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Art Isn’t Easy: End of Year Fundraiser and Membership Drive
X-TRA and Project X at the LA ART BOOK FAIR!
The Benefit of Friends Collected, Vol. 2: Book Fair Reception
1 IMAGE 1 MINUTE at the LAABF
Project X Forum 1: The First Show, 1992
Panel Discussion: On Art Practice, Theory, and the PhD.
Project X Desk Writer in Residence: Christiane Kues
Project X Forum 2: FAR Bazaar
X-TRA Spring Launch: The Conversation
Project X Forum 3: XTREME Research
The Benefit of Friends Collected
Panel and White Elephant Party
Project X Forum 4: Suitably Appointed
Project X Forum 5: Revisiting “Program for Paradise”
Project X Forum 6: Pair-A-Sites,
with Charles Gaines and Kerry Tribe
Project X Forum 8: Lost and Found with Nao Bustamante, Soo Kim, and HK Zamani
X-TRA Launch: Fall together
Xtreme Archive: Project X 1992-1999
Project X Forum 9: East of Eden, Profane Gardens
Spend Money on Amazon, Amazon Gives X-TRA Money
XTREME Launch Party!
SCALE: Launch Event for X-TRA 16.2
Cadavere Quotidiano: The first Project X Projects Paperback
LA in the 90s : Benefit Auction and Party for X-TRA and Project X
Cadavere Telephone: X-TRA and Cadavere Quotidiano Launch Party
2014 X-TRA Reader Survey!
Artist’s Tag Sale
X-TRA Summer Launch in Berlin
The Project X Desk at Outpost@Armory: Johanna Hedva
X-TRA and Project X at Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair
X-TRA and Project X at Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair
HELL: Shanaynay Library Party and Cadavere Quotidiano Paris Launch
Panel Discussion: What does art practice have to do with political activism?
X-TRA Fall Launch: Leslie Dick and Zackary Drucker in conversation
X-TRA at Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair
X-TRA at the College Art Association Conference in New York
X-TRA presents Dont Rhine and Clean Needles Now
The X-TRA Art Sale
The Summer Event!: Conversation and Beer.
Destruction! And Monsters! Fall Launch Party and Screening
3 Ways to Make X-TRA’s Year End Right.
X-TRA presents Chinese Cocktail, a concert by Robert Wilhite
The Kitchen Table, reprise
Surfing & Smoking
Immaterials and Proposals, part deux
X-TRA at the NY Art Book Fair
15 Years in 15 Days: Day 1/ Stephen Berens presents The Los Angeles Times and Me
X-TRA’s 15 Years in 15 Days
15 Years in 15 Days: Day 2 / Why Start An Art Magazine Now? (1997 / 2012)
15 Years in 15 Days: Day 3 / Debate Drawing Party
15 Years in 15 Days: Day 4 / MAK Center to support ARTISTS + INSTITUTIONS: Common Ground “What is the Common Ground for Artists and Institutions?”
15 Years in 15 Days: Day 5 / Revisiting the revisiting of feminism.
15 Years in 15 Days: Day 6 / X-TRA celebrates MATERIAL.
15 Years in 15 Days: Day 7 / Jan Tumlir presents Black and White Paintings and Albums, a talk with images and music.
William Leavitt presents Habitat
Micol Hebron presents 1 Image 1 Minute
The Art of Criticism, a panel discussion Organized and moderated by Damon Willick with Sharon Mizota, Doug Harvey, and Aram Moshayedi.
“Country Lessons” hosted by Vanessa Place
Performance: Leslie Dick’s “Boundary Lines” & PDAs by CamLab
FIRE IN THE LIBRARY: FIND BIG MIND, a cross discipline talk influenced by the work of Eugenia Butler
Chinese Cocktail listening party with Robert Wilhite
X-TRA=XV CAKE PARTY!!!
X-TRA hosts Happy Hour at Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum
Launch Event: X-TRA at Armory Center for the Arts with Marcos Lutyens
X-TRA’s 1 IMAGE 1 MINUTE 2011
Screening of the films of Gary Beydler
Amazon will donate to X-TRA every time you buy something using our link!
Artists & Writers Picnic
X-TRA at The Bash, the Co/Lab party for Art Platform
Immaterials and Proposals at Human Resources