Contemporary Culture of Exclusion
South Pasadena takes great pride in the city’s rich history and culture. The arc of history that was presented in this series of events, however, begs the questions; do we acknowledge our whole history? If so, where can we see our recognition of past errors and attempts to reconcile their effects on our present? If not, do we not have an obligation to address our whole history in our present?
South Pasadena, regardless of its progressive affectation, bears the scars and open wounds of our past. Or as Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We are not makers of history, we are made by history.”
And today we continue to reproduce a culture of exclusion that our history has clearly constructed. From our founding to redlining, South Pasadena has repeatedly excluded the most marginalized and vulnerable of our society. We build physical and psychological barriers between ourselves and our neighbors to create distance from the harmful role that we have played in the Los Angeles area’s ugly past of discrimination and racism.
We must look no further than the census data of our own city: 55% White, 30% Asian, 18.5% Hispanic or Latino, and 3.6% Black or African American. Compared to our region, Latinx Americans and Black Americans are underrepresented in our city. This is a symptom of historical exclusion and of a contemporary apathy and hostility toward changing it.
The protests for Black lives after the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Brianna Taylor, Anthony McClain, and many others were even met with veiled threats and laughable inaction.
If we truly wish to change our culture of exclusion, we must fully recognize our past and actively choose to reconcile it. We are not immune to this country’s history of racism and hatred. But we are in a position to act. So, South Pasadena, how will history remember you?