Hi everyone! Before getting to the actual entry, I feel I should introduce/explain myself a bit. I’m Diego and I blog over at Soledad en masa. I was born and raised in South Gate, technically west of the L.A. River, but part of the Eastside. I now live far, far east of the River, east of the Colorado, Mississippi, and Hudson, and north of the Charles, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I attend Harvard University as a freshman. I’m almost done with this first year and if I am in L.A. for the summer, I’ll post here more regularly. For now, while I am in the East Coast, I’ll be a contributor and post every so often.
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When I first arrived at Harvard in September, as I introduced myself to roommates and other people I met, I was always asked where I was from in California. Since my Dodgers cap was not enough to give them an idea where I was from, I always said “Los Angeles” because that’s what they recognized, not South Gate. I don’t have much of a problem saying “L.A.” when I typically mean the county, not the city proper. I’m the only freshmen from the Eastside at Harvard.
It’s a different story, however, when I run into people from the Southland (Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange Counties). I always ask them what specific cities they are from, and sometimes I’ll be asked where I am from, to which I proudly respond “South Gate.” Often, I look at blank faces to which South Gate doesn’t register. My response is almost always followed by “Where is that?” By this point, I’m annoyed, so to shut them up, I say “East of South Central/Watts” and they stop talking to me, most likely thinking, “How did he get in?” Within a few days, South Gate has been reduced to “South what?”
When I meet people from Los Angeles County and they don’t know where South Gate is, I’m amazed. I’ve been asked by people where it is and I put it in the context of freeways, but often, the 710 is that one freeway that they don’t seem to know. The very few who I have met from Los Angeles County who know about South Gate are from Long Beach or the Norwalk area. I’ve met someone from Downey who doesn’t know where South Gate is. How the fuck do you not know one of your bordering cities?
Plain, good ol’ ignorance and lack of knowledge on their part. All my life in L.A. I hear about Santa Monica, Burbank, Venice and other “nice” parts of the county, but I never hear much of South Gate or any other city in the Eastside in the news, in the media PERIOD. Nothing. Como si no existimos.
When I run into someone who does know where South Gate is and, even better, has been there or is familiar with it, they immediately become my friend, but that’s for another post. Until then, I hope more people pick up Thomas Guides and start learning the layout of the county’s neighborhoods and cities.