Newsflash: Inglewood Matters!

 | Photo: Courtesy MonaLisa WhitakerNot to slam my town, but I don't meet too many visionaries in Inglewood -- people with a real love and passion for the city whose criticisms of the place are directly proportional to that love and passion. In other words, people who believe that Inglewood is a great and possible place whose possibilities are continually obscured by city leaders and elected officials who simply don't see the same thing.

I have come across some political idealists/reformers/activists in my time, not just in Inglewood but other towns like Compton. But seeing Inglewood not just as another crucible of urban black struggle but as something bigger, a place of ideas and art and even intellectual ferment, a cultural and artistic hub that's valuable on its own terms and always has been -- well, that's radical.

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Teka-Lark Fleming is fine being called a radical. She's a 37-year-old conceptual artist -- she used to work out of a space downtown -- who sports long dreadlocks and favors cowboy hats and vintage overcoats. A recent appointee to Inglewood's Arts Commission, she's also the publisher of a new paper in town called the Morningside Park Chronicle, which she launched in November after failing to get traction on a reading series she was looking to mount at a local library (alas, that branch is now closed). A lifelong Inglewood resident, Fleming was fed up with what she saw as the bureaucratic lack of imagination that has kept the city moribund in more ways than one. She was already publishing an online black arts magazine called Inglewoodland (a great name, I thought), as well as a broadsheet called Brickbat Revue that mixed art and political messaging. But she evidently needed to go further. "People said, 'when are you gonna start a real newspaper?" she recalled. "So I did."

The Chronicle, named for one of north Inglewood's more picturesque neighborhoods, seeks to breaks a tradition of black community news that tends to be overly boosterish or overly concerned with issues of poverty and urban pathology that define Inglewood -- and Compton, and South Central -- to the outside world. While Fleming doesn't deny the problems that exist, she wants to round out the picture by detailing other aspects of its daily life that almost always go unexamined. "I wanted to fill that empty space between positive news and 'everybody's a piece of crap' -- represent alternative black people, and by that I mean those who are not Cosby and those who are not derelict," she says with characteristic bluntness. "There needs to be a medium. This paper showcases people who are never given a voice."

Format-wise, the MPC is not terribly radical: a mix of news, business profiles, features, reviews, and commentary. But its insider energy and independent spirit is distinctly different from any media produced in Inglewood before; in the current issue, a pictorial boasts the headline, "Ash Avenue: Your Block Rocks!" There's a long disquisition about the movie "Django Unchained," a piece about a couple of enterprising young locals who've started an internet clothing line called the Wood Class. The front page raises questions about veteran Inglewood pol Danny Tabor, who is running for city council, and a story about how the city proposed a 700-plus percent hike in the city's property transfer tax. All of it is meant to challenge the notion that the Inglewoodians are not paying attention or not interested or invested in change that reflects the complexity and possibilities here -- "bringing the structure of Inglewood in line with the people," as Fleming puts it.

Fleming has already shaken things up: she recently got a death threat from one unhappy reader and business owner who was jarred by the way she and her paper are presenting things. But she's hardly deterred. She has plans to start a book publishing enterprise as an expansion of the DIY spirit of the Chronicle and her earlier endeavors. "There needs to be a place for artists, writers and thinkers to go, where I can be my bummy self," she says cheerfully. "Yeah, I'm taking on the system. But what concerned citizen wouldn't?"

You can read the paper at www.morningsideparkchronicle.com.

Journalist and op-ed columnist Erin Aubry Kaplan's first-person accounts of politics and identity in Los Angeles, with an eye towards the city's African American community, appear every Thursday on KCET's SoCal Focus blog. Read all her posts here.

About the Author

Journalist and op-ed columnist Erin Aubry Kaplan's first-person accounts of politics and identity in L.A., with an eye toward the city's African American community, appear weekly on KCET's SoCal Focus blog.
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LEAVE A COMMENT Leave Comment  

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Teka brings a fresh open conversation to the community that we need more of. Great work.

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It's long overdue. Inglewood's state control of media (channel 35 is owned by the morons at city hall, including mayor Jimmy T Butts; the newspaper is owned by farmer Willie Brown) has been one of two reasons why everyone is allowed to think Inglewood is just car chases and poverty pimps. For a 9-square mile area, it has much to offer despite the concerted attempt by city council bozos to be otherwise. And Teka's great paper and future endeavours will bring all that to light. A very nice story indeed, and by another Inglewood resident!

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Other communities can take note from Teka-Lark and take initiative to help bring awareness of things going on at a local level, from political to entertainment the MPC covers it all. There's something different about news coming directly from Inglewood natives who love their hometown and aspire to see its growth.

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I am so grateful, as a resident who loves Inglewood, to have Teka-Lark among us, and an avid booster of the Morningside Chronicle. As a longtime fan and reader of Erin Aubrey Kaplan, it is kismet that one great newspaper writer (occasional L.A. Times columns - though i miss her more constant presence in earlier times) recognizes this young newspaperwoman. Kudos to Teka-Lark. We should all keep reading!

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Inglewood's Morningside Park Chronicle thanks Erin Aubrey Kaplan for her enthusiastic pursuit of the truth in Los Angeles and Inglewood. Thank you Erin for the wonderful write up of the Morningside Park Chronicle.

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Many thanks to Erin and Teka for leading the charge towards changing the way the media covers Inglewood. I’m a relatively new resident of the city and I love it here. The people are warm and friendly. We have clean streets. Every neighborhood has a park with facilities. There’s so much that Inglewood has to offer, I just think more people need to be made aware of our little jewel.
Teka, I hope your paper sparks a new and positive way of thinking about Inglewood. I wish you much success!

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""People said, 'when are you gonna start a real newspaper?" she recalled. "So I did." "

It is so important to be an advocate for our communities and neighborhoods. MORE coverage on activists, radicals and artists who shine a positive, balanced light on their communities please.