Los Angeles Mayoral candidate Karen Bass held a roundtable with local Black media, as well as the California Black Media group Sept. 27.
The Black media roundtable was held via zoom, where Bass had the opportunity to speak directly to the questions and concerns posed by Black media.
Roundtables like these are very important for Black media, who are often marginalized in the Los Angeles journalism space.
This forces us to follow information on the political landscape from non-Black media, leaving us unable to speak directly to candidates on the issues impacting Black communities.
Black media professionals including Dominique DiPrima of KBLA, journalist and political strategist Jasmyne Cannick, as well the L.A Standard and Wave Newspaper were present.
Bass was asked to provide an update into the investigation regarding a recent break-in at her residence, where two guns were stolen.
“I can tell you that after my house was broken into, the two suspects were arrested and are from Ventura County. They were arrested in Van Nuys but I don’t know too much about them. I know one has a history of burglary, but the police haven’t told me anything else,” Bass responded.
Bass was also asked about the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, her work in congress, and specific policies being worked on, that can directly impact folks at the local level in Los Angeles. Several topics discussed during the zoom call also included:
Institutional racism facing Black Angelenos.
Black workers and representation in leadership positions in government jobs.
Local motels used by L.A agencies to house homeless folks that are in terrible living conditions.
Her concerns that she was recently followed while abroad.
Her work in Africa as part of the Black Caucus and why it is important to her.
The decision she made to leave Congress and to do work here in Los Angeles.
She also revealed there are two more debates scheduled with her opponent, Rick Caruso, before the November election.
“There is one Oct. 6th on KNX and that will be a radio debate. The final debate will be Oct. 11 and will be a live broadcast on KNBC,” Bass detailed.
One journalist asked Bass how much Caruso has complicated the race by representing himself as a Democrat and does she believe this has the potential to confuse voters.
“This is a non-partisan seat but ultimately I do not believe the voters will be confused by Caruso,” Bass replied. “He is counting on the fact that if he uses his money to repeat this over and over again he will sow confusion.”
Her opponent, Rick Caruso, is a billionaire developer raised in Echo Park.
Caruso has attempted to appeal to L.A voters by switching parties from Republican, to Democrat, three weeks before entering the mayoral race.
In addition, Caruso is hoping to gain support from those in various L.A immigrant communities who can identify with the migrant experience.
“One thing that is very different in the campaign now, vs the primary, is because I have so much support, I know many of my supporters will show who the real Democrat is,” said Bass.
Caruso’s real estate portfolio includes nine retail centers, some located within the Grove and Fairfax district.
Unlike Bass’ working class background and history of political organizing in marginalized communities including South Central/South L.A, Caruso comes from wealth.
In response to the 1980’s crack cocaine epidemic that devastated South Central, Bass founded Community Coalition located on Vermont.
CoCo’s mission was to provide preventative community-centered solutions to the drug crisis, while working to transform the social/economic conditions that foster addiction, crime and poverty through policy efforts and civic engagement.
Caruso’s father owned numerous car dealerships and was a prominent businessman.
In 2001, Caruso was the youngest person to become a commissioner, when L.A’s first Black Mayor, Tom Bradley, appointed him to the Department of Water and Power board at 26.
Caruso would later undermine Black political representation and leadership with his influence, by replacing LAPD’s Black Police Chief, Bernard Parks.
It is imperative that Black people in L.A who are able, remain steadfast in organizing and showing up around the issues that plague our communities.
A point of personal concern, is how our Black elected officials refuse to use language that speaks directly to the issues impacting the most disenfranchised Black people in L.A.
Although some of my personal questions were addressed by Bass during the Black Media Roundtable, she was still unable to give concrete plans or solutions on issues such as institutional racism facing Black Angeleno’s.
Read More: The Karen Bass Los Angeles Knows
It is important to keep in mind, however, that critique of Black candidates is not an endorsement of their opponent.
Black politicians themselves, are operating within high levels of white supremacy and trying to find ways daily, to keep their own head above water and mental health in check.
Black people, however, are demanding tangibles for our votes just like other communities and our requests should be taken as seriously.
In Congress, she’s considered a bridge-building politician who can draw accolades and concessions from both sides of the aisle, even as the issues she cares about most—from gang violence to foster care—aren’t usually at the center of the national conversation,” (POLITICO).
Hopefully, with a collective community vision, plan and push to reimagine our inner city communities, Bass, with the support of the L.A City Council, can become a catalyst to reimagine the ways we directly support disenfranchised Black people in L.A.