Black and Brown in Los Angeles: Beyond Conflict and Coalition

Black and Brown in Los Angeles: Beyond Conflict and Coalition

Black and Brown in Los Angeles: Beyond Conflict and Coalition

Black and Brown in Los Angeles: Beyond Conflict and Coalition


Black and Brown in Los Angeles is a timely and wide-ranging, interdisciplinary foray into the complicated world of multiethnic Los Angeles. The first book to focus exclusively on the range of relationships and interactions between Latinas/os and African Americans in one of the most diverse cities in the United States, the book delivers supporting evidence that Los Angeles is a key place to study racial politics while also providing the basis for broader discussions of multiethnic America.

Students, faculty, and interested readers will gain an understanding of the different forms of cultural borrowing and exchange that have shaped a terrain through which African Americans and Latinas/os cross paths, intersect, move in parallel tracks, and engage with a whole range of aspects of urban living. Tensions and shared intimacies are recurrent themes that emerge as the contributors seek to integrate artistic and cultural constructs with politics and economics in their goal of extending simple paradigms of conflict, cooperation, or coalition.

The book features essays by historians, economists, and cultural and ethnic studies scholars, alongside contributions by photographers and journalists working in Los Angeles.


Only when the lesson of racial estrangement is learned is
assimilation complete.… All immigrants fight for jobs and
space, and who is there to fight but those who have both?

— Toni Morrison, “On the Backs of Blacks”

The painful truth is that blacks and Latinos have found that
the struggle for power and recognition is long and difficult.
On some issues, they can be allies. On others, they will go
it alone. Changing demographics and the rise of Latinos to
the top minority spot in America won’t make the problems
of either group disappear. Nor will blaming each other for
those problems solve them.

— Earl Ofari Hutchinson, “The Black-Latino Blame Game”

The prospects of peace in the contemporary world may
well lie in the recognition of the plurality of our affiliations
and in the use of reasoning as common inhabitants of a
wide world, rather than making us into inmates rigidly
incarcerated in little containers.

— Amartya Sen, Identity and Violence

In February 2009, we organized a roundtable at the University of Southern California called “Writing Race in L.A.” As part of the series Blacks and Latinos in Conflict and Cooperation, the evening featured a group of African American and Latina/o writers— Héctor Tobar, Erin Aubry Kaplan, Helena María Viramontes, and Dana Johnson— who . . .

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