It’s Time to Talk, L.A.
Before you think I’ve turned this summer blog of eating, working, and road tripping into a political statement, let me offer this disclaimer: the following is a story about the power of talking.
As a journalist and aspiring foreign correspondent, I chose to run into a (in this case) peaceful group of protestors marching on the I-10 in Los Angeles instead of staying in my car. At that moment, during the first round of Trayvon Martin support protests (http://storify.com/mkeavy/la-protestors-show-support-for-trayvon), I was en route to dinner at Momed in Beverly Hills (I recommend the fresh pita and Muhammara). At the Crenshaw exit, eight other drivers and me were stopped by an alarming number of LAPD officers; I thought there had been an accident. Within moments of coming to a complete stop, hundreds of people entered the freeway on the opposite side, chanting and raising signs all bearing the name “Trayvon Martin.”
As the protestors consumed the freeway, the number of LAPD cars and officers grew, the swat team arrived, and the fresh pita waiting for me was immediately forgotten — I was sitting in the midst of history. I had avoided the major news networks for the last two weeks, tired of hearing repetitive breakdowns of the same trial and verdict. But this — this was unavoidable; this was not Florida, but Los Angeles.
Instead of remaining a passive bystander, I chose to Tweet, Instagram, Facebook, and text what I was watching unfold. There was a reason I was put in the middle of the protest, so I took advantage of it. Within fifteen minutes, my Instagram video had been retweeted, “favored,” “liked” and commented on by strangers. I had become a news source from the driver’s seat of my car.
The protestors continued into Hollywood, down Crenshaw and over Western Boulevard. They finally culminated at Leimert Park , three miles from USC, with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s press conference. Though not as violent, this event, like the 1965 Watts Riots or the LA Riots of ’92 sparked by the death of Rodney King, directly affected different races, ethnicities, political parties and backgrounds everywhere — but especially at USC. What we share — the campus, the traditions — act as a pulse for South LA, and in turn, the city itself.
Now you’re confused, I’m sure, because just sentences ago I warned that this would not be another rant about the state of our nation. You’re not convinced. Here’s the bottom line: whether you attend USC, are interested in USC, or have found this blog while perusing the World Wide Web, know this: never stop talking.
Utilize social media, become a citizen journalist, read something and then discuss it with your friends. When you don’t agree, find a way to start a conversation about it. That’s what Angeleno protestors did, that’s what my fellow stopped drivers did, and that’s what you should do, readers.
There’s still summer left to experience something—that’s your challenge: go out, do something, see something, and then let’s talk (twitter.com/maddykeavy) about it.