Posts Tagged With race


Saturday, April 28, 2012 / 7:17 am

Los Angeles Riots: 1992

No justice, no peace.

by Donna Schoenkopf

Tags: race | Rodney King | Los Angeles riots | South Central L.A. | injustice | no justice-no peace | teaching in the riot zone

Aerial view

Wednesday, April 29, 1992
5:00 am

The alarm buzzes and I am up and out of my comfy bed.  It takes a while to get my nine year old son John up and ready for school. 

I take him to McDonalds for his breakfast.  It's right across the street from his school.  It's the only way I can figure out how to make sure he's okay.  No day care for him  No money for that.  I climb back into my car, drive past the well-tended landscape of the school, and make the long drive to South Central and my job as teacher of fourth graders at 61st Street School.

It's always painful leaving John.  I worry.  

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Friday, April 27, 2012 / 5:00 am

Chicken Pox and Napoleon

A hot time in the ole town tonight is recalled.

by Gary Phillips

Tags: race | Rodney King | Los Angeles riots | Verdicts | Saigu

L.A. '92

On this 20th anniversary of the ’92 riots, in the last two weeks I’ve done a panel, a radio  broadcast, as well as written a couple of other pieces recounting and reflecting on those events.  I take this not as a sign of any sagacity I’ve gained in the last couple of decades, but of age – that simply by being around long enough and having done certain things, you get asked to look back.

In fact, a decade before, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of those events, I’d done a piece for Geography of Rage, a collection of essays and reflections on the conflagration edited by Jervey Tervalon, published by the late, lamented local press, Really Great Books. 

There were several highpoints, if that’s the right word, for me during the riots.  Robin Cannon, a South Central community activist and a friend of my wife Gilda, was as shit jumped off at Normandie and Florence, sitting in Gilda’s Community Scholars class.  As going home that night seemed dicey, she stayed with us and during the lull the next day, Gilda took her home.  The Vons near our house in Mid-City on Pico and Fairfax got looted but the workers and some neighbors prevented it from being torched.  Me and a few other friends witnessed an old lady with a pistol in her apron pocket and her feisty girlfriends preventing some knuckleheads from torching the Texaco station at Ogden and Pico.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012 / 7:50 pm

An Overlay of Strange

When the unexpected happens, especially when its source is people, not nature, that's when the world seems plain wrong.

by Nathan Walpow

Tags: race | Rodney King | Los Angeles riots | sense of place

defending Koreatown

I was in Paris recently, and several times I came across schools with signs reminding us of the horrible things the Nazis perpetrated therein during the early ’40s. This made me think about the whole city under German domination; familiar streets and buildings with the trappings of something previously unimaginable; the everyday rendered alien.

One day we went out to the Normandy beaches. Reminders of D-Day were still in place: hulking metal structures on the sand and in the water, dumped there by the Germans to hinder the Allies. The sea was lovely, the sky was clear, yet there were probably a few people around who remembered the shells splitting the air, the smoke, noise and bodies everywhere. The same place, rendered into a nightmare.

The point of the travelogue: We have an image of the place we live. We know the range of weather to expect, the kinds of people we’ll see, the vibe we feel. And there is nothing more disconcerting than to have that image fundamentally changed. When the unexpected happens, and especially when its source is people, not nature; when something we’re not preparing for in the back of our minds occurs: that’s when our world seems plain wrong.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012 / 4:37 pm

Rodney King for a Day

Will there be fire next time?

by Jim Washburn

Tags: race | Rodney King | Los Angeles riots

Rodney King beating video

What would it take to get you to beat the crap out of someone who was already lying beaten on the ground? An imminent threat to your life? The knowledge that person had done something cruel and horrible to someone you loved? How about if the person just drove fast and didn’t obey your commands with the deference you were accustomed to? How many kicks, taser shots and baton blows would you have to deliver before you felt good about yourself again?

Back on March 3, 1991, it took a taser shot, 56 baton blows, and seven good kicks (resulting in fractured face bones, a broken ankle and a quilt of bruises and lacerations) before LAPD officers felt they’d made their point to Rodney King. King was not a model citizen: He’d attracted authorities’ attention because he was driving drunk at high speed, and he didn’t heed their sirens because the drunk driving would have violated his parole for a previous robbery conviction.

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Monday, April 23, 2012 / 5:00 am

I Was Ten Years Old

When I was ten, I saw a man beaten half to death by police I was supposed to trust. And I saw them get away with it.

by Tony Chavira

Tags: race | Rodney King | Los Angeles riots

Florence and Normandie

I was ten years old on April 29, 1992, when our Monterey Park middle school’s A/V staff wheeled carts with television sets into my classroom so that we could watch the outcome of the Rodney King trial. Though the vast majority of the students in my grade were ethnically Mexican or Asian and though we were only kids, what had happened was still very clear to us. We had all seen the footage of Rodney King’s beating on television and most of our elders, though trying to be impartial, were confident the officers were guilty of abuse, and legitimately shocked, in front of us, when they found out that the cops were let off the hook.

Thinking back, I remember the weird feeling of knowing that the riots were happening a few miles away but only seeing them on television. It was as though we were nowhere nearby, yet everyone had a strong reaction to them. Strange as it may seem, I grew up in a place with no white or black people, so I had almost no understanding of Los Angeles’s racial dynamics. Everything I knew was told to me by my parents. My mother was born in Oakland and raised in Huntington Park in one of the only Mexican families in a city already divided into white and black districts during the 1950s and ’60s. My father grew up a first-generation American in East L.A., and remembered the disdain of older Jewish East L.A.ers who felt like the riffraff were taking over. Or, I guess, coming back.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012 / 5:36 pm

There’s A Riot Goin’ On

No Sly, nor the Family Stone, but next week you'll hear from the entire staff about the 1992 "civil disturbance" in L.A.

by Nathan Walpow

Tags: race | Rodney King | Los Angeles riots

LA Times during riots

It’s been twenty years since the whole Rodney King thing. The arrest, the videotape, the trial, the riots. Next week, the FourStory staff takes a look back at what they experienced during the civil unrest following the verdict. Most of us were adults; one was still growing up. One taught in South Central. We were (still are) black, brown, white. All these circumstances, as well as accidents of geography, affected us during the riots, and during the period after.

We start Monday with Tony Chavira’s “I Was Ten Years Old.” You’ll hear from Phillips, Washburn, Schoenkopf and me as the week goes on. Plus a guest writer or two. Then, on Monday, April 30, we’ll have an excerpt from Gary Phillips’s Violent Spring. It’s his first Ivan Monk mystery novel, published in 1994, and is set in the aftermath of the riots.

What’s changed since 1992? Lots. And nothing. Come back next week to read about both.

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Monday, February 13, 2012 / 12:04 pm

Comfortably Ignoring Society’s Problems

Addressing inequality head on, since 1865.

by Tony Chavira

Tags: Mitt Romney | race | disparity | slavery | progress

the home of Free Blacks during the Civil War

The blog, Letters of Note, posted a fantastic old letter from Mr. Jourdan Anderson, a freed slave living and working in Dayton, Ohio in 1865, in response to his former master, Colonel P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee, requesting that he return to Tennessee and get back to work on the farm.

Read these highlights from the letter and jump for joy:

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 / 6:00 am

This Job Is a Solid Killer

African Americans in wartime, as depicted on stage and screen and in the funny papers.

by Gary Phillips

Tags: race | Red Tails | movies | stage | comics

Red Tails

This past weekend I was watching the big budget Captain America: The First Avenger on our newish flat screen TV. Set in World War II, I’d seen it in its 3D glory at the cineplex last year, but enjoyed the movie so much I rented it on DVD. For years we’d had this Sony Trinatronic. That much used machine finally gave up the ghost a few months ago, and a trip to the Best Buy in Culver City yielded the bad boy we got now, a Samsung LCD 40-incher. Not only does it deliver a bigger, crisper picture, it’s less than half the weight of the Sony, reminding me just how far we’ve advanced technology-wise.

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Friday, January 20, 2012 / 5:00 am

Why Ron Paul is Wrong About Everything Ever, Social Issues Edition

He completely dismisses the realities of reconstruction, drug laws and the drug conviction rate.

by Tony Chavira

Tags: marijuana | race | why Ron Paul is wrong about everything ever

Ron Paul and Don Black

Racists—and those who exploit racism—are rarely about the business of openly declaring themselves as such, especially after their cause has been thumped. Before the Civil War, you could find all manner of Southerners exalting the “great moral truth of slavery.” Afterwards, they claimed it was just “States’ Rights.” Before Reconstruction, the defeated Confederates employed explicit black codes that reduced African-Americans to slavery. After Redemption they moved to “vagrancy laws,” “contracts” and “grandfather clauses.”  In the 1960s George Wallace would loudly declare “segregation forever!” Now we say “the Civil Rights Act destroyed privacy.” In the era of militia madness, Ron Paul defended his racist newsletters. In the era of Barack Obama, he didn’t read them.
     — Ta-Nehisi Coates

American history is full of strange asymmetries, which Americans of all color justify differently in retrospect. White settlers murdered 99% of the Native American population, but justified those murders by giving the remaining 1% land, tax exemptions and nation status. Africans were wrongfully enslaved for more than two hundred years, then given nothing when they were freed. Interned Japanese Americans were given a stipend after three years of wrongful imprisonment.

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