Christal Mims, Staff

Members of Black Lives Matter L.A. and other civil rights and business leaders held a press conference over Zoom to discuss the recent comments by White House adviser and son-in-law to Donald Trump, Jared Kushner regarding the work ethic of Black Americans. In attendance were Akili of Black Lives Matter L.A., Damien Goodmon of the Downtown Crenshaw effort, Jackie Ryan – the past president of Leimert Park Village Merchants Association, Linda Morgan Sam from the L.A. South Chamber of Commerce and Rev. William D. Smart Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California.

Kushner is facing backlash after suggesting that Black Americans don’t want to work hard in order to become successful.

“The thing we’ve seen in the Black community, which is mostly Democrat,” Kushner stated on Fox & Friends, “is that President Trump’s policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they’re complaining about, but he can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful.”

Goodmon pointed out the irony of Kushner’s comments considering the Downtown Crenshaw effort to gain control of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza is being thwarted by Trump and Kushner-associated business groups like LIVWRK, DFH Partners and CIM Group, who are attempting or have attempted, to purchase the mall.

Akili agreed, saying, “There are four conditions that Black people have to deal with in America: White supremacy, institutional racism, individual bigotry and mass denial. Kushner’s comments represent all four,” Akili explained. “It’s offensive in light of the fact that Downtown Crenshaw is the best example of striving for success, of working for success.”

Ryan said Kushner’s comments and attempt to displace Black people in the Crenshaw community displays his ignorance of humanity and what it means to be Black in America.

“The nerve,” Ryan began, “We have been here for 400 years and we have been successful in all of our attempts to rid ourselves of racist owners from the beginning. We have come a long way because of our resistance, because of our knowledge, because of our courage, because of our right to be in public space.”

Sam questioned the legitimacy of the companies attempting to purchase the mall, as DFH Partners only recently created a website for themselves.

“There were multiple Black bidders for the Crenshaw Mall,” Sam said. “Including a Black community bid in the form of Downtown Crenshaw. These Black bidders are all more competent and capable than LIVWRK and yet they were passed over for Kushner’s business partners,” Sam explained.

Rev. Smart echoed the sentiment that those in the Black community know what’s best for the space and don’t need outside interference from people who are not tapped into the needs and wants of local residents.

“The mall, the sacredness of that site, belongs to Black folks,” Rev. Smart said. “Give us the opportunity to show you what we can do. We have the power; we have the determinism. We need this as a victory.”

Goodmon said that the plans of LIVWRK and DFH Partners for the mall are currently unknown, while the Downtown Crenshaw effort would like to see the expansion of Black businesses, Black jobs and Black empowerment.

“Black culture in so many respects is a critical asset that is often leveraged. How about we do some of that production here on Crenshaw and create working class jobs and support them here,” he expressed.

Goodmon also stated that the sale of the mall has not officially gone through and encouraged supporters to sign a petition on the Downtown Crenshaw website as well as contact their local representatives regarding the sale.