(Photo by Christian Lee)
Whittier Christian High School

The cowboys of East Compton

COMPTON — Amid the dreary and distinctively urban landscape, visitors in East Compton recognize echoes from the past. A spur of gang related violence throughout the 90s stained the city’s reputation and led to the popularization of various stereotypes regarding Compton as a whole.

While outsiders possess a specific visualization of the community, the photographs that I took in East Rancho Dominguez, an unincorporated community within the city, suggest an alternative narrative that is steeped in rich cultural & historical value.

On a warm Sunday afternoon, I noticed a group of Latino American horse riders parading down the open streets, riding nonchalantly past evening traffic. A cop on a motorcycle quietly directed traffic on the east side as the riders greeted onlookers. Passing by a cemetery, a group of children, along with their mother, ran out to wave to the riders. One stopped and politely tipped his hat. Down the block, I noticed stables built into many of the modest one-story homes.

Everything seemed typical for a quiet afternoon — people gathered on their front lawns to share a moment with family & friends — the only difference was that their horses accompanied them. Though this is not the image that people see when they “imagine” Compton, it certainly is a foray into a resilient & beautifully diverse community.

(Photo by Christian Lee)