I’m Counting My Family’s Thanksgiving Blessings. My Neighbors Aren’t All So Fortunate

In Watts, One Woman's Seasonal Joy Is Tempered by Concern for Her Community

In November, 2013, Shanice Joseph wrote an essay for Zócalo about how her financially challenged family was preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving. This year we asked her for an update, and she obliged.


With the holidays approaching I thought that I couldn’t be any happier. Over the past four years everything has been going great. My family and friends are happy and healthy. I made supervisor at my job. I bought a car. I’m more involved in my community. Most importantly I grew to become a better person. With everything going well, …

Why I Don’t Care About My Neighborhood’s Bad Reputation

A Lifelong Watts Resident on the Perception, and the Reality, of the Much Maligned Area

Is there really something wrong with Watts? Or have we just taught ourselves to think that way?

I grew up in Watts, and for as long as I can remember …

What’s Holding Jordan Downs Back?

The Housing Project’s Much Anticipated Redevelopment Keeps Getting Delayed by Bureaucracy, Funding, and Nasty Underground Surprises

This is the year the transformation of Jordan Downs, a sprawling housing project in the heart of Watts, finally begins. So, where’s the fanfare? The story is a long one, …

How Watts Provided the Foundation for a Family’s Rise in America

Baseball, Small Business, and Legal Status Helped a South L.A. Clan Develop Deep Community Roots

It’s as nostalgic a scene as you can get: young boys gathering in the streets, playing summertime baseball into the night, dreaming of the big leagues. “We would be out …

Does My Neighborhood Want Me to Get Pregnant?

A College Student in Watts Asks Why She Gets So Little Support Compared to Young Women Who Have Children

If I were to get pregnant, I would know just where to go for help: the local offices of Women, Infants, and Children, the federally funded food and nutrition program; …

Born Into the Cycle, Part One

My Grandmother's Life In Watts Was Tough. My Mother's Life Was Tougher.

Watts is the place I call home. It’s also the place I want to leave. It’s my comfort, and it’s my trap. When I was growing up, I didn’t want …