I’m going to be honest with you. When I first read that this month’s theme for the blog hop Between Lenses is urban, I thought of how the word urban has become code for black. I had recently watched the first few episodes of the show Black-ish on Hulu, in which the lead character Andre Johnson is promoted to Senior Vice President of the Urban Division. The ABC show depicts an upper middle class black family living in a primarily white neighborhood. Have you seen it? It’s not the best, but it’s not bad.
I don’t think I had heard of or thought about urban being a code for black until hearing Sasheer Zamata and Nicole Byer talk about how they have been instructed to sound “more urban” and “be blacker” in their auditions.
This has nothing to do with my picture. I just thought I would share that bit of word association. Why is urban code for black in some circles? I don’t know.
Besides that, the word urban made me think of cities, the actual definition of the word. I thought about taking a photo in my suburban city, which is part of Los Angeles County. I could take a picture of a packed parking lot or a bus stop. Those things stand out to me as the markers of a densely populated area. But then I remembered that I have taken pictures of Los Angeles itself so I may as well use one of those.
I took this photo sometime during my internship in Downtown Los Angeles, which I did from February to May. This is actually the street the company I worked for is on. It’s in the building across the street, so you can’t see it in the photo. But you can see some tall buildings, shorter buildings, construction and signs in multiple languages. All these things say urban to me.
Interestingly enough, my grandma’s friend’s mother worked at the suit shop on this street (far left in the photo) when my Grandma was young. That’s how old that building is. It’s still a suit shop with old advertisements painted on the windows. As it is the Fashion District, there are many fabric and sewing supply stores. I’m sure many of the buildings here are old and some of the other businesses may very well be also.
Out of view, but just down the alley (Santee alley, to be exact), are some fairly new restaurants. One of them, TBLA Catering & Cafe, is so good. If you ever happen to be in the Fashion District, do go. Just know that it’s (almost) impossible to find parking.
Cities, like any other area, are not perfect. They have a lot of problems and plenty of positives. They’re perpetually in progress. In some ways, they are a reflection of greater society. I would love to see more progress made on ending homelessness and violence, improving transportation, improving working conditions in many areas and reducing the cost of living in Los Angeles, as well as the surrounding area. It took me a while to write that out because I know I can’t just say it. I have to be part of the solution.
What I like about urban areas is that it’s easy for people to come together. Activism, networking groups and helpful organizations do exist outside of urban areas. That is true. It’s just that the more people you have in an area, the more likely you are to find people to connect with. That’s what I think any way. There are also great community events in urban and suburban areas that I love, such as concerts, food truck festivals, lectures and art exhibits.
I hope you enjoyed reading my ramble on the word urban, as well as my photo.