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How to respond to the anxiety over gentrification and race in Leimert Park

How to respond to the anxiety over gentrification and race in Leimert Park
From left, neighbors Diane Robertson, Carole Gillie and Sandy Zalagens chat before they begin a walk together in Leimert Park. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: A similar story is playing out in predominantly black communities in other cities across the country. Leimert Park is a unique residential community imbued with an Afro-centric culture that remains predominantly black. But as this story points out, gentrification is a reality, as two new light-rail lines portend both transit and demographic changes. ("Selfie of white joggers in African American neighborhood sets off debate, and quest for understanding," March 10)

A key element is the longstanding need to improve the economic conditions of black Angelenos so that even with gentrification they can still remain in communities such as Leimert Park. Another key is to recognize that we live in a multicultural and diversifying area, and ultimately we should greet with open arms those who seek to live with us as African Americans. We should all resist the "get out of my country" or "get out of my neighborhood" mantra that is growing louder.

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More than 30 years ago, I coauthored a book on this changing nature of black communities in both the cities and the suburbs. Clearly, as this article points out, such concerns remain relevant.

Philip S. Hart, Los Feliz

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To the editor: According to this article, "black families feel a sense of loss as white families move in" to Leimert Park. I wonder what the reaction of The Times and the public would be if white families bemoaned the "encroachment" into "their" neighborhoods.

This just shows you that racism isn't restricted to whites and what happens after teaching people the importance of racial identity.

Mike Berliner, Los Angeles

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