By Annette Quijada
For decades, African Americans have been protesting for young lives they’ve unjustly lost.
Now in 2020, people around the world are reminded that things still have room to further change.
Long before Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, and even before the Black Lives Matter organization existed, the death of a young girl shook the Los Angeles African American community.
Director Sophia Nahli Allison reminds viewers of who that girl was with her short Netflix documentary on Latasha Harlins.
Netflix’s “A Love Song for Latasha,” focuses on the short life of a 15-year-old black girl named Latasha Harlins from South Central Los Angeles.
Harlins was murdered on March 16, 1991 by a convenience store owner named Soon Ja Du over a $1.79 bottle of orange juice. Du was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, which would have resulted in 16 years in prison.
Instead Judge Joyce Karlin sentenced her to 400 hours of community service, a $500 fine, and five years of probation.
Allison takes a different route when creating this documentary. She is able to use different visuals of art in order to help the viewer experience the raw emotions of a young life gone too soon.
While the film gives emotions of anger because of the wrongful killing due to prejudice and racism, it also shows the vibrance in Latasha and the life she was looking forward to.
In the documentary, Latasha is described as a young girl with big dreams to change her community.
Her childhood best friend, named Tybie O’Bard narrates in the film and explains the plans they had for the future,
“Latasha would always talk about, when we got older, okay, here goes the plan, we could still be lawyers.
“That could be our day job, and we could own businesses, because every time we go into the store, they either following us, giving us dirty looks, disrespecting us…we need, like, programs. We need something where the kids that’s outside, they can have something to do or somewhere to go…”
Latasha was wise for her age, noticing the wrongfulness she and her people were going through every day while doing simple tasks such as grocery shopping, but she also wanted to create change.
Even though she was only 15, she had a plan.
Latasha’s death came 13 days after the video of Rodney King had surfaced, the community was still dealing with the emotions of that incident.
King was a victim of police brutality when four officers from the Los Angeles Police Department savagely beat him, while other officers watched.
When it came to the Rodney King’s trial, the jury decided to acquit the four officers involved.
This trial would be the last straw for many and the anger began in South Central Los Angeles.
The wrongful death of Latasha Harlin and the beating of Rodney King would eventually become added reasons as to why the 1992 Los Angeles Riots took place.
Their deaths are still relevant today as unarmed black men and women are still fighting for their lives in this America.