Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities

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Overview

Black Los Angeles is the culmination of a groundbreaking research project from the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles that presents an in-depth analysis of the historical and contemporary contours of Black life in Los Angeles. Based on innovative research, the original essays are multi-disciplinary in approach and comprehensive in scope, connecting the dots between the city's racial past, present, and future. Through historical and contemporary stories, oral histories, maps, photographs, illustrations, and demographic data, we see that Black L.A. is and has always been a space of profound contradictions. Just as L.A. has come to symbolize the complexities of the early 21st century city, so too has Black L.A. come to embody the complex realities of race in so-called "colorblind" times.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“It's a deeper, better work of scholarship that wades into the history of this city, some of that history hundreds of years old, as a way of making sense of not just the present but the future as well. This wide sweep of Los Angeles history, and the role that black Americans played in its evolution at every level, is what sets this collection of supple, trenchant essays apart.”
-Michael E. Ross,Popmatters.com

“The book brings together the research interests of what Hunt describes as an ‘all‒star team’ of contributors, most but not all of them academics with strong California connections. Comprising 17 short to medium‒length essays, it pivots from data‒rich analyses of how the black community's 20th century demographic center gradually has shifted from Central Avenue to Leimert Park, to interview‒driven, anecdotal accounts of the rise and decline of Venice’s Oakwood neighborhood and a revealing chronicle of the black‒owned SOLAR (Sounds of Los Angeles Records), a late '70s‒early '80s hit‒making machine for groups including the Whispers, Shalamar and Klymaxx.”
-Reed Johnson,Los Angeles Times

“A true masterwork of urban studies. Taken together, these wide-ranging, diverse, original essays significantly expand our understanding of the African-American experience in Los Angeles. With breathtaking scope and vision, Black Los Angeles is a brilliant example of cutting-edge scholarship and a powerful corrective to the enduring image of a city of drive-by shootings and low-rise projects.”
-Robin D. G. Kelley,author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

“These beautifully-written essays cover the grit of everyday life (family, gangs, gays), cultural magic (art, music, media), and political action (labor, education, and environment). The diversity of perspectives and eight-year commitment by scholars and community collaborators make this a one-of-a-kind collection. The result is a realistic and uplifting portrayal. Anyone who wants to understand Los Angeles and Black America needs to read this book—now.”
-Michael Dear,author of The Postmodern Urban Condition

"To offset the notion that twenty-first century America is a "colorblind society," Black Los Angeles construes "black" as having more to do with power and politics than with natural features . . . The pyschological and sociological perspectives of many contributors present aspects of contemporary black life that historians often overlook and that future works of history should include."-Lawrence B. de Graaf,The Journal of American History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814737354
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2010
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 560,576
  • Product dimensions: 6.58 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Darnell Hunt is Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and Professor of Sociology at UCLA. He is the editor or author of numerous books, including Channeling Blackness: Studies on Television and Race in America and Screening the Los Angeles “Riots:“ Race, Seeing, and Resistance.

Ana-Christina Ramón is Assistant Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA and a social psychologist.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Dreaming of Black Los Angeles Darnell Hunt 1

Part 1 Space

1 Race, Space, and the Evolution of Black Los Angeles Paul Robinson 21

2 From Central Avenue to Leimert Park: The Shifting Center of Black Los Angeles Reginald Chapple 60

3 The Decline of a Black Community by the Sea: Demographic and Political Changes in Oakwood Andrew Deener 81

Part 2 People

4 "Blowing Up" at Project Blowed: Rap Dreams and Young Black Men Jooyoung Lee 117

5 Out of the Void: Street Gangs in Black Los Angeles Alex Alonso 140

6 Imprisoning the Family: Incarceration in Black Los Angeles M. Belinda Tucker Neva Pemberton Mary Weaver Gwendelyn Rivera Carrie Petrucci 168

7 Black and Gay in L.A.: The Relationships Black Lesbians and Gay Men Have to Their Racial and Religious Communities Mignon Moore 188

Part 3 Image

8 Looking for the 'Hood and Finding Community: South Central, Race, and Media Dionne Bennett 215

9 Playing "Ghetto": Black Actors, Stereotypes, and Authenticity Nancy Wang Yuen 232

10 Before and After Watts: Black Art in Los Angeles Paul Von Blum 243

11 SOLAR: The History of the Sounds of Los Angeles Records Scot Brown 266

12 Killing "Killer King": The Los Angeles Times and a "Troubled" Hospital in the 'Hood Darnell Hunt Ana-Christina Ramón 283

Part 4 Action

13 Bass to Bass: Relative Freedom and Womanist Leadership in Black Los Angeles Melina Abdullah Regina Freer 323

14 Concerned Citizens: Environmental (In)Justice in Black Los Angeles Sonya Winton 343

15 A Common Project for a Just Society: Black Labor in Los Angeles Edna Bonacich Lola Smallwood-Cuevas Lanita Morris Steven Pitts Joshua Bloom 360

16 Reclaiming UCLA: The Education Crisis in Black Los Angeles Ana-Christina Ramón Darnell Hunt 382

Bibliography 407

Contributors 425

Index 429

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