Reading Rodney King/Reading Urban Uprising

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Like many "news events," the Rodney King incidents - the beating, the trial, and the uprisings that followed - have so far played a superficial role in public dialogue. Reading Rodney King/Reading Urban Uprising deepens the public debate by exploring the connections between the incidents and the ordinary workings of cultural, political, and economic power in contemporary America. Its recurrent theme is the continuing though complicated significance of race in American society. The Rodney King incidents raised a number of questions regarding the relationships between poverty, racial ideology, economic competition, and the exercise of political power. What is the relationship between the beating of Rodney King and the workings of racism in America? How was it possible for defense attorneys to convince a jury that the videotape it saw did not depict an excessive or unjustified use of violence? In the burning of Koreatown, what role did racial stereotypes of African Americans and Korean Americans play, and what role did various economic factors play? What, moreover, is the significance of the fact that the L.A. police department, when it responded to the uprising, sent its officers to Westwood but not Koreatown? And how, finally, are we to understand the fact that not all of Los Angeles' various Latino communities took part in the uprising? Reading Rodney King/Reading Urban Uprising comprises essays by prominent philosophers, social scientists, literary critics and legal scholars. They explore the issues from a variety of theoretical perspectives, offering a nuanced picture of the Rodney King events. Avoiding reductionism, they illuminate the complex interplay of ideological, political and economic forces impinging on urban America. With America's black, Latino, and Asian populations continuing to grow, the issue of race has come to dominate political debates on public policy and educational struggles over multicultural curricula. Expressing cynicism with "politics

This provocative and insightful perspective on the race issue in contemporary America deepens the public debate by exploring the connections between the Rodney King incident and its ensuing riots and the ordinary workings of cultural, political, and economic power. Includes essays by prominent philosophers, social scientists, literary critics, and legal scholars.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 17 often insightful essays, academics and social critics explore the connections between the Rodney King incidents--the beating, the trial and what the editor terms the subsequent ``uprising''--and conditions in America's cities. Though some essays suffer from redundancy and overly academic language, others offer provocative observations. Houston A. Baker finds King's silence during his trial emblematic of the enforced silence of African Americans during the age of slavery. Arguing that the King verdict was not a unique failure of justice, Kimberle Crenshaw and Gary Peller suggest that lawyers for the Los Angeles police officers used the same tactic of decontextualizing evidence that the U.S. Supreme Court used in a decision weakening the claim of minority-owned businesses for ``set-aside'' government contracts. Describing the failure of police to protect Korean merchants, Sumi K. Cho observes how the Korean community, though stereotyped as a ``a model minority,'' was sacrificed in the interests of white dominance. Gooding-Williams teaches philosophy and black studies at Amherst College. (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415907347
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 4/19/1993
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Gooding-Williams is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Black Studies at Amherst College. He is author of the forthcoming book Nietszche's Pursuit of Modernism, to be published by Routledge.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. 1 Beating Black Bodies
1 Endangered/Endangering: Schematic Racism and White Paranoia 15
2 Terror Austerity Race Gender Excess Theater 23
3 Scene...Not Heard 38
Pt. 2 Acquitting White Brutality
4 The Rules of the Game 51
5 Reel Time/Real Justice 56
Pt. 3 Assaulting America: A Political Economy Begets Ruin
6 Race, Capitalism, and the Antidemocracy 73
7 Accumulation as Evisceration: Urban Rebellion and the New Growth Dynamics 82
8 The Los Angeles "Race Riot" and Contemporary U.S. Politics 97
Pt. 4 On the Streets of Los Angeles
9 Anatomy of a Rebellion: A Political-Economic Analysis 117
10 Uprising and Repression in L.A.: An Interview with Mike Davis 142
Pt. 5 Ideology, Race, and Community
11 "Look, a Negro!" 157
12 The New Enclosures: Racism in the Normalized Community 178
13 Korean Americans vs. African Americans: Conflict and Construction 196
Pt. 6 The Fire This Time
14 Home is Where the Han Is: A Korean-American Perspective on the Los Angeles Upheavals 215
15 Reflections on the Rodney King Verdict and the Paradoxes of the Black Response 236
16 Two Nations...Both Black 249
17 Learning to Talk of Race 255
Index 261
Contributors 273
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