Obama to visit upper-middle-class black L.A.

The View Park neighborhood in Los Angeles is 80 percent black and the residents who live there are mostly middle or upper middle class. But the neighborhood is tied directly to the poorer neighborhoods that surround View Park in South Los Angeles.

David Brancaccio: A story now about President Obama's fundraiser tomorrow morning in Los Angeles. The president is headed to breakfast in the View Park neighborhood in L.A. Carol Thompson lives there.

Carol Thompson: We heard about him going to George Clooney's house -- that's money. This community doesn't have that kind of money.

View Park is an upper-middle-class area in South Los Angeles that's majority African-American.

Wealth & Poverty reporter Shereen Meraji has the story.


Shereen Marisol Meraji: When you ask people who live in View Park to describe their neighborhood, they always mention the celebrities.

Steve and Deyna Hearn: Ike and Tina turner stayed across the street, and you had Nancy Wilson around the corner.
 
Nancy Wilson singing "Son of a Preacher Man"

What View Park residents -- like Steve and Deyna Hearn -- don't brag about are the local schools.

Deyna Hearn: What parent wants to send their kids to a school where when you walk in you go through a metal detector? I don't think so.

The median income in View Park is more than $80,000 a year, and nearly half its residents have college degrees. But low-income, high-crime neighborhoods are less than two miles away.

Angela James: That's a basic fact that the black middle class is more likely to face than the white middle class.

Angela James is a sociologist who teaches at Loyola Marymount University.

James: Their homes are valued less because they live close to poor communities and they are more likely to have been responsible for paying for their own education rather than being able to draw on family wealth to do so.

James says because their houses don't appreciate as much it's more difficult to draw on that equity to pay for their children's education.

James: And so you see how the cycle of wealth inequality continues.

A fact that View Park residents Steve and Deyna Hearn know firsthand. Steve's is a retired mechanic, Deyna's a community college dean.

Deyna Hearn: Nothing was ever handed down to us, our parents weren't in a position to help us. And with the economy the way it is, it could all be behind us tomorrow, you just never know.

As proof the Hearn's point out the foreclosures on their block -- four in the last five years. And that block is just minutes from where President Obama is holding his $2,500-a-plate fundraiser tomorrow.

I'm Shereen Marisol Meraji for Marketplace.

About the author

Shereen Marisol Meraji is a reporter for Marketplace’s Wealth & Poverty Desk.

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