Synopses & Reviews
Los Angeles has attracted intense attention as a "world city" characterized by multiculturalism and globalization. Yet, little is known about the historical transformation of a place whose leaders proudly proclaimed themselves white supremacists less than a century ago. In The Shifting Grounds of Race, Scott Kurashige highlights the role African Americans and Japanese Americans played in the social and political struggles that remade twentieth-century Los Angeles.
Linking paradigmatic events like Japanese American internment and the Black civil rights movement, Kurashige transcends the usual "black/white" dichotomy to explore the multiethnic dimensions of segregation and integration. Racism and sprawl shaped the dominant image of Los Angeles as a "white city." But they simultaneously fostered a shared oppositional consciousness among Black and Japanese Americans living as neighbors within diverse urban communities.
Kurashige demonstrates why African Americans and Japanese Americans joined forces in the battle against discrimination and why the trajectories of the two groups diverged. Connecting local developments to national and international concerns, he reveals how critical shifts in postwar politics were shaped by a multiracial discourse that promoted the acceptance of Japanese Americans as a "model minority" while binding African Americans to the social ills underlying the 1965 Watts Rebellion. Multicultural Los Angeles ultimately encompassed both the new prosperity arising from transpacific commerce and the enduring problem of race and class divisions.
This extraordinarily ambitious book adds new depth and complexity to our understanding of the "urban crisis" and offers a window into America's multiethnic future.
"Scott Kurashige shifts the urban history paradigm in this brilliantly triangulated account of African American and Japanese American resistance to white racism in Los Angeles."--Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums and In Praise of Barbarians
"Long in historical reach, this compelling study displays a sure grasp of Asian American and African American urban histories as well as an ability to locate race in urban space, mapping political and economic inequalities in all of their human dimensions. It succeeds mightily at capturing possibility and tragedy in Los Angeles history."--David Roediger, University of Illinois
"By offering a comparative and relational history of African Americans and Japanese Americans in Los Angeles and their respective struggles against racial segregation, Scott Kurashige extends our historical knowledge about race relations and civil rights to the West. Indeed, he shows just how many of the multiracial questions that vex us today were prefigured in Los Angeles in the early and middle twentieth century."--Mae Ngai, author of Impossible Subjects
About the Author
Scott Kurashige is associate professor of history, American culture, and Asian/Pacific Islander American studies at the University of Michigan.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations ix
List of Tables xi
Chapter 1: Constructing the Segregated City 13
Chapter 2: Home Improvement 36
Chapter 3: Racial Progress and Class Formation 64
Chapter 4: In the Shadow of War 91
Chapter 5: Japanese American Internment 108
Chapter 6: The "Negro Victory" Movement 132
Chapter 7: Bronzeville and Little Tokyo 158
Chapter 8: Toward a Model Minority 186
Chapter 9: Black Containment 205
Chapter 10: The Fight for Housing Integration 234
Chapter 11: From Integration to Multiculturalism 259