In Los Angeles, the headlines continue to mount. A fourteen-year-old African American girl is killed by a Latino gang member. An African American bus driver orders Latino passengers off the bus. A 14 percent increase in gang-related crime is linked to interracial conflict. The Harbor Gateway community is divided by a Black-and-Brown border, turning corner grocery stores into racial battle zones. The Latino pro-immigration movement is declared a “new civil rights movement” and there’s talk of African American “movement envy.” Black and Latino students are in conflict at Jefferson High School and Crenshaw High School.
How have Los Angeles–based African American and Latino/a writers dealt with race in their work? How have their backgrounds—family, community, neighborhood—shaped the way they see the city and the way they imagine the city’s racial future? Several renowned writers will come together to explore these and other questions around Black and Latina/o relations in L.A. The panel will feature Héctor Tobar, author of The Tattooed Soldier and Translation Nation: Defining a New American Identity in the Spanish-Speaking United States; Dana Johnson, author of Break Any Woman Down; and Helena Maria Viramontes, author of The Moths and Other Stories and Their Dogs Came with Them. Moderated by esteemed journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan, the panel will explore the intersections of the arts, politics and urban conflict and coalition in present-day Los Angeles. Using literature and journalism to look at the ever-changing world around us, the event will invite conversation for imagining a new L.A.Organized by Josh Kun (Communication and American Studies and Ethnicity), Laura Pulido (American Studies and Ethnicity) and USC’s Center for Diversity and Democracy. Cosponsored by the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs and El Centro Chicano.
Viramontes Photo: Marion Ettinger
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