Photo Credit: Rebecca Kendall/UCLA
From left: Victoria Sanelli, manager of UCLA Army ROTC; Maj. Tyrone Vargas, UCLA assistant adjunct professor;
Lt. Col. Shannon Stambersky, UCLA professor of military science; SFC Rhu Maggio, military instructor;
Romeo Miguel, recruiting operations officer; Maj. Steve Kwon.

By Lieutenant Colonel Shannon V. Stambersky

Professor and Chair, Department of Military Science

For those not familiar with Army ROTC, there may be a perception that officer training solely focuses on basic “Soldier skills,” such as marksmanship, land navigation and tactics. While Soldier skills are learned, leader development is not solely about learning tactical skills, but also about creating leaders who are open to new and often times uncomfortable experiences that challenge their way of thinking. One of the ways cadets are able to test themselves is through overseas training missions. The Cultural Understanding and Leadership Program (CU&LP) and Project Global Officer are two competitive programs that assist in this process. While Project Global Officer focuses on language training and earns participants college credits, CU&LP focuses less on language and more on learning to work with foreign militaries and organizations.

Cadets who participated in the program consider it one of the best and most exciting summer programs that Army ROTC offers. Through the program, cadets have the incredible chance to travel the world, work with other countries’ militaries and immerse themselves in other cultures. The program is designed to help cadets understand the similarities and differences that exist between them and their host nation. They also learn how their actions affect those around them by conducting training alongside cadets from their host militaries, participating in humanitarian aid missions and traveling to important religious and cultural sites to better understand how history and religion have shaped the nation.

Not only does this program provide priceless opportunities to the cadets on a personal level, but the Army benefits as well. The Army is making an investment in its future leaders by allowing them the opportunity to learn first-hand the importance of customs and culture in military operations and appreciate the world’s diversity. The CU&LP program is an eye-opening experience for any cadet with a passion to explore the world and a willingness to open their mind.

 

Lieutenant Colonel Stambersky graduated from the University of Richmond in 1999 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and commissioned as a Quartermaster Officer. She later went on to earn Masters’ Degrees in National Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Prior to her current duties, she served as the single Liaison Officer for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to the Department of the Army at the Pentagon, Washington D.C.  While at DLA, she also served in the Joint Logistics Operations Center providing actionable logistics analysis directly supporting the Joint Force as well as State and Federal Agencies as the Joint Strategic Distribution Officer. Lieutenant Colonel Stambersky currently serves as the Professor and Chair of the Department of Military Science at UCLA. Last summer she served as Mission Commander for a US Army Cadet Command sponsored Cultural Understanding and Leadership Program mission to Indonesia. In Indonesia, she led a team of over 30 cadets from around the nation to partner with the Indonesian Naval Academy, Technology School as well as participate in numerous outreach opportunities coordinated through the US Consulate in Surabaya in support of the State Department.

For more information on how you can join UCLA’s Army ROTC program and participate in numerous opportunities that will help develop you into a future leader of character for our Nation, contact our Recruiting Operations Officer at 310-825-7381 or armyrotc@milsci.ucla.edu.

Lieutenant Colonel Stambersky and her colleagues from the UCLA ROTC program were recently featured in the news for their acts of heroism in which they rescued motorists from a major crash on a Los Angeles freeway.  To read more, click HERE.

By Dr. Rachel Vaughn

Assistant Adjunct Professor in the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, Institute for Society & Genetics, and Gender Studies Department

In 2015, the mayor of Ventimiglia, Italy Enrico Ioculano signed l’ordinanza di divieto da dare da mangiare ai migranti— a municipal ban on serving food to refugees in the streets or those camped along the rocky beaches of the French-Italian seaside town. According to interviews and newspaper accounts, the mayor’s ban was a means of addressing food safety, waste and pest control concerns. Aid groups and activists, however, immediately resisted the ordinance, taking to the media, streets, kitchens and radio waves to protest what they see as the use of food as a weapon of exclusion.

In France two years later, border activists Cedric Herrou and Pierre-Alain Mannoni faced fines, trial and charges for offering solidarities of food, shelter and safe passage.

Legal scholar, human rights activist and director of l’Associazione Antigone Patrizio Gonnella spoke against the ordinance to Italian newspaper La Corriere della Sera, arguing that banning acts of human solidarity was inhumane. The ordinance certainly reflects concern over immigration and a perceived strain on municipal resources. However, since many contemporary asylum seekers to Italy come from African nations and the Middle East, some believe that the ordinance is a reflection of complex racialized and gendered tensions and stands in stark contrast to the humanism of other aid projects in the area.

Thanks to a generous faculty summer research grant through the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, a new oral history project examines various roles of food and water in processes of asylum in Italy. Though I have been researching complex transnational tensions surrounding this particular municipal ban (and its May 2017 revocation) since Spring 2015, this unique research project formally began Summer 2017, when I conducted the first interviews and site visits. The call for participants is open and continuous, regardless of political affiliations, humanitarian aid or citizenship status.

My broader interdisciplinary book project on the topic weaves together the interview data with legal, population, media and popular culture sources to analyze Italian asylum more extensively through the dual lens of the “edible” and the “necropolitical” —in other words, the politics of death, dying, the wasted or cast aside. I center my attention on the racialized and gendered political meaning-making happening through eating, by combining Kyla Wazana Tompkins’ conceptualization of “critical eating studies” with waste scholar Michelle Yates’ Marxist feminist Human-as-Waste and UCLA Gender Studies scholar Grace Hong’s work on necropolitics. By centering my research on edible tensions in Italy’s migration ‘crisis,’ I expand understanding of the raced, classed and gendered dynamics of border crossing within and beyond Italy, engaging the ways in which food and water serve as bio-political tools of inclusion and exclusion.

Courtesy of Marianna Bosco of Il Cammino cooperative via https://rachelvaughnsite.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/media-coverage/

Dr. Rachel Vaughn is Assistant Adjunct Professor in the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, Institute for Society & Genetics, and Gender Studies Department. She holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of Kansas. Her research engages the intersections of Critical Food and Discard Studies, Feminist Science & Technology and Environmental Studies. She is the author of “‘Choosing Wisely’: Paralleling Food Sovereignty and Reproductive Justice” (Frontiers); co-editor and organizer of “Edible Feminisms: On Discard, Waste & Metabolism,” a UCLA Luskin Endowment grant-funded conference and special issue of Food, Culture & Society. Vaughn’s forthcoming book is Talking Food, Talking Trash: Oral Histories of Food Precarity from the Margins of a Dumpster (University of Nebraska Press). She is author of a second manuscript-in-progress, Queer Toxic Soy & Estrogen Panic: Gendered Food Fear Mongering. She teaches interdisciplinary courses such as: Biotechnology & Society; Race, Class & Gender in Globalized Foodways; Sanitation & The Body; and Feminist & Queer Ecologies.

 

 

By Lara Drasin

UCLA’s new Master of Social Science (MaSS) degree may seem to have materialized one summer day in 2016 as a sudden addition to the university’s already-robust social science graduate degree offerings, but this state-of-the-art program was actually a labor of love many years in the making.

The MaSS program, which welcomed its first cohort of students to campus in Fall 2017, first was envisioned by former Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Alessandro Duranti, who convened a faculty steering committee, led by Social Science Interdepartmental Program Chair, Dr. Juliet Williams, to explore the idea. Dr. Williams worked closely with Director of Academic Programs for the Social Sciences Dr. Tamar Kremer-Sadlik, who now serves as MaSS Academic Director, and with a team of divisional faculty, to develop a one-of-a-kind program for students interested in research-oriented careers. To lay the groundwork for graduates’ success after the degree, Drs. Williams and Kremer-Sadlik interviewed prominent leaders in the business and NGO sectors, conducted focus groups with alumni from the social sciences, and even developed a professional advisory board to make sure that the skill sets they planned to cultivate in students would translate to the job market – and make graduates of the program more attractive to PhD programs, should they choose that route.

“We wanted people who want to enter the workforce but are lacking some skills,” said Kremer-Sadlik, citing feedback she had received from businesses that they were looking for candidates with better critical thinking, reading, writing and data research skills, as well as an ability to think creatively, be flexible and work well in teams. She also reinforced that the program is for “people who are thinking that they want to go do a PhD but need either to prepare better or really think it through with better tools.”

As part of the three-quarter-long program, students take newly designed courses in qualitative and quantitative methods for social research, two electives, and a course introducing them to different theoretical frameworks used in the social sciences. MaSS students also benefit from class visits by members of UCLA’s world-class faculty.

“It was an amazing experience to hear about their work and then allow time for an in-depth question and answer session after each one,” said current MaSS student Jill Giardino, about faculty class visits. “This was for the MaSS program only so it was a very intimate setting – we learned a lot about topics such as cultural politics in LA, the model minority myth of Asian Americans, diversity in Hollywood and the first-ever study of day laborers.”

But what’s especially unique about the program’s curriculum is its focus on application: teaching students how to use their newfound social science skills to understand and think about potential solutions to larger, more systemic social problems.

“The MaSS program,” says Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Darnell Hunt, “exemplifies the UCLA Division of Social Science’s commitment to empowering students to put social science knowledge to work in addressing challenges and engaging communities.”

The program culminates in each student’s completion of a Major Research Paper (often referred to as the “MRP”), which is an empirical analysis of a pre-existing data set that is relevant to each student’s research question. Research questions are based on student research interests and developed under the guidance of faculty instructors. Each student is also paired with a “faculty reader” – a UCLA faculty member whose research interests line up with the topic of the student’s MRP.

There are 20 students in the inaugural year of the MaSS program, all with diverse research interests and from as far as Brazil, China and Singapore. “I truly appreciate all of the intelligent and diverse characters that have gathered to pioneer this program,” said Sarah Gavish, another member of the current MaSS cohort. “There is never a class without laughter.”

Students are encouraged to take individual approaches to their MRP, employing both quantitative and qualitative and, in some cases, mixed methods approaches. Current student projects explore a broad range of topics, including: factors that influence the acceptance of corruption in Brazil; motivation for voting in authoritarian elections; internet censorship and digital activism; cross-cultural analyses of military leadership; Asian American pan-ethnic identity; race and gender-based inequality in subprime lending; and media studies on documentary film, tween television programming and the relationship between television news and fear.

“The MaSS program solidified for me that I was passionate about doing research,” said Monica Lee, another current student. “I also find that even though I came into the program with no prior research experience, I now feel confident in my ability to be able to conduct research that can have a meaningful impact in policy and on society.”

A commencement ceremony for the inaugural class of MaSS graduates will be held on June 15th, 2018 at the Fowler Museum.

For more information on the MaSS program, visit http://mass.ss.ucla.edu/.

 

We call homelessness a crisis in Los Angeles because we increasingly see the homeless in our midst every day. Yet, the invisible crisis has been with us for years, affecting even many UCLA students and staff. New Los Angeles City and County initiatives promise to meet the challenge of homelessness head on, but success will depend on the quality of evidence and information informing these investments. We believe UCLA can and should play a role in this effort, and that begins with learning more about the crisis and the response, and laying out a research agenda.

To galvanize transdisciplinary research and engage our campus with efforts across LA County, UCLA will host Professor Dennis Culhane of the University of Pennsylvania from May 21 – 24, 2018.  One of the nation’s most influential homelessness scholars, Professor Culhane pioneered the use of homeless management information systems (HMIS) and integrated data systems to study homelessness, and generated much of the evidence base that led to permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing policies. Professor Culhane will lead a week-long series of activities to help focus UCLA’s research and student communities on one the most pressing humanitarian crises facing our city.

The homelessness week is supported by a grant from the Office for Interdisciplinary and Cross Campus Affairs and co-sponsored by the Fielding School of Public Health, California Center for Population Research, and the California Policy Lab. Organized by Professors Randall Kuhn (Community Health Sciences) and Till von Wachter (Economics) the week includes four major events also described on the event website.

First, the week will kick off with a public lecture by Professor Culhane on “Meeting the Challenge of Homelessness” on May 21st. The lecture will be opened by Dean Jody Heymann from the Fielding School of Public Health. In this lecture, Culhane will review the national situation, including progress and continued hurdles. He will also describe unique challenges for cities like LA, where many homeless are unsheltered.

The second event is a roundtable discussion on the “Homelessness Research Agenda in LA and Beyond” on May 22nd.  For students, faculty, researchers, and others interested in having a direct impact on homelessness, this Roundtable will describe current City and County research priorities and unmet needs, and will highlight areas for UCLA contribution. The roundtable will be introduced by Dean Gary Segura from the Luskin School of Public Policy, and includes Molly Rysman, Deputy for Homelessness for the Third Supervisory District of the County, who will talk about the County’s research needs on homelessness; Janey Rountree, Executive Director of the California Policy Lab, who will talk about the new Countywide Homelessness Research Policy Initiative; Michael Lens, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy; and Till von Wachter, Professor of Economics, who will talk about opportunities policy-oriented research on homelessness at UCLA.

On Wednesday, May 23rd, Professor Culhane will lead a seminar on “The Promise of Integrated Data Systems for Social Science Research.” Culhane will review the legal, ethical, scientific and economic challenges of interagency data sharing, as well as systematic efforts including policy reform and inter-agency collaboration to overcome these challenges. He will also review important new integrated data systems initiatives in LA County and California.

Finally, the week will conclude with a mini-conference on “Transdisciplinary Homelessness Research: Measure H and Beyond.” Topics include pathways into and out of homelessness over the life-course. Articulating new service delivery models and data collection, including mobile phones as a platform for outreach. The conference will also feature a round table on how to sustain the interdisciplinary conversation through a campus-wide research network, regular working groups, and joint research projects.

Schedule of Events of Homelessness Week

Public Lecture: Meeting the Challenge of Homelessness

Monday, May 21, 2018
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
UCLA NPI Auditorium CHS C8-183

Register

Roundtable: Homeless Research Agenda in L.A. and Beyond

Tuesday, May 22, 2018
3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
UCLA Public Affairs Building, Rm. 4240
Social Mixer to follow: UCLA Public Affairs Building, Luskin Commons Patio 3rd Floor

Register

Seminar: The Promise of Integrated Data Systems for Social Science Research

Wednesday, May 23, 2018
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
UCLA Public Affairs Building, Rm. 4240

Conference: Transdisciplinary Homelessness Research: Measure H and Beyond

Thursday, May 24, 2018
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
UCLA Public Affairs Building, Rm. 4240

 

For more information about Homelessness Week, click HERE

For more information about the California Policy Lab (CPL), click HERE

For more information about the California Center for Population Research (CCPR), click HERE

John Vande Wege/UCLA

May 16, 2018

Dr. Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, Associate Professor of Political Science, was recently profiled by the PBS NewsHour to discuss her important work with UCLA’s first-generation college students.  This new retention initiative connects first-generation faculty with first-generation college students to guide them along their educational pathways.  In this effort, Professor Frasure-Yokley teaches Fiat Lux courses and mentors first-generation students, in order to increase their persistence, improve their sense of belonging, and ensure that they graduate.  Watch the full interview and news segment HERE.

By Margaret E. Peters

Assistant Professor, Political Science

The Trump administration recently announced tariffs on 1,300 types of goods from China, including televisions, medical devices and batteries. On a seemingly unrelated note, President Trump also said that he will “send troops” to the U.S.-Mexico border to stop immigrants from crossing illegally.  While these two policies play to Mr. Trump’s base, it will be extremely difficult for Trump to restrict both trade and immigration. As I show in my new book, Trading Barriers: Immigration and the Remaking of Globalization, trade restrictions lead to more open immigration policies and immigration restrictions lead to more imports and offshoring.

Trade and immigration policy affect one another through their impacts on business. Over time, globalization and increasingly lower barriers to trade change the amount and kind of labor businesses need, which changes their level of support for more welcoming immigration policies.

Lower trade barriers are good for many businesses, but they can also cause the closure of companies who tend to be large employers of immigrant workers. When these businesses close, they no longer exist to lobby lawmakers for more open immigration policies. For example: the textile industry was once a major employer of immigrant labor in the U.S. but, since it lost much of its trade protection in 1990, it has shed almost 70% of its workforce. Today, textiles are mostly produced abroad. Not surprisingly, the textile industry went from a major proponent of immigration in the 1950s and 60s to barely showing up to lobby Congress in the 2000s.

Policies that allow companies to move overseas also tend to lower businesses’ willingness to lobby on immigration. Why should businesses fight to bring Chinese workers to the U.S. when they can move their factory to China?

Finally, the pressures of globalization often lead companies to automate their production. With automation, businesses need fewer workers. The U.S. steel industry, which Trump has promised to protect, produces as much steel today as it did in 1960, but it does so with a third of its former workforce. When companies automate, they need fewer workers, and that also tends to make them stop lobbying for open immigration. Together, these trends mean that there has been less lobbying by businesses for immigration and, consequently, greater immigration restrictions.

The effects of globalization and trade openness on immigration mean that Mr. Trump’s efforts to restrict both trade and immigration are unlikely to be successful.  If the administration succeeds in restricting trade and bringing back more manufacturing, don’t be surprised if businesses clamor for more open immigration policies. Since business interests are a powerful lobbying group, Trump will face huge pressure to soften his stance on immigration.

On the other hand, if Trump continues down the path of deporting undocumented immigrants and limiting legal immigration, more and more businesses will close or move. These restrictions will have an especially large effect on employers here in California. A crackdown on undocumented immigrants will lead to much higher farm labor costs. In turn, that might lead more farmers to give up farming (at least in the U.S.) and drive up food imports. Increased limits on high-skill migrants will hurt technology firms, leading more of them to invest overseas. Without access to immigrant labor, then, businesses producing here in America will be unable to compete with businesses abroad.

The Trump administration cannot have it both ways. It can enact new tariffs to bring back manufacturing or enact new restrictions on immigration, but it can’t do both.

Margaret E. Peters is an assistant professor of political science at UCLA and the author of the award-winning book, Trading Barriers: Immigration and the Remaking of Globalization; she can be found on Twitter at @MigrationNerd.

By Abigail C. Saguy

Professor of Sociology, UCLA

In late 2017, over 30 women accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault or rape. Shortly after—following the lead of actress Alyssa Milano—millions of women began posting “#MeToo” on Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and other social media platforms, effectively “coming out” as victims of sexual harassment, assault or rape. As Milano acknowledges, “Me Too” isn’t new: African American activist Tarana Burke first used “Me Too” in 2007 as part of an offline campaign to let sex abuse survivors–especially young women of color—know that they were not alone. Milano says she hopes the social media campaign will shift the focus from Weinstein to victims and “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

The #MeToo movement underscores the power of collective mobilization. It also shows how suddenly the status quo can shift. Despite having studied sexual harassment in the United States and France for almost 30 years – and publishing a book and several articles on the topic[1] – even I did not see this coming.

Recently, I have been studying how people “come out” to resist stigma and mobilize for social change. As I show in a series of articles and a forthcoming book with Oxford University Press titled Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are: Identity Politics in the 21st Century, the concept of coming out—first developed by the gay rights movement in the 1970s—has expanded well beyond lesbians and gay men. The undocumented movement, fat rights movement, and Mormon fundamentalist polygamists—to name a few—all now use “coming out” politics to make real changes to laws, public opinion, interpersonal relationships and to claim their civil rights.

Notably, the #MeToo movement embraces not just the politics of “coming out” as a victim of sexual harassment or assault, but also the “outing” of harassers, assaulters and rapists. “Outing”—another term coined and developed by the gay rights movement in the 1980s and 1990s—originally referred to the act of disclosing a politician or celebrity’s homosexuality, typically because they publicly opposed gay rights or promoted heteronormativity (i.e. the idea that everyone is heterosexual) by “passing” as straight.

#MeToo has already led to significant change in the culture around sexual harassment and assault. Many of the men recently “outed” as sexual offenders have lost their jobs and, in some cases, faced criminal prosecution. Some have argued that employers and authors may now take women who claim to have been assaulted or harassed more seriously. The movement may bring real systemic changes to how employers and courts address sexual harassment.

Exactly what will come of the #MeToo movement remains to be seen, but this movement—and the others of which it is both a product and a part—are a reminder that the social life of humans is fluid and deserving of true inquiry by social scientists.

Abigail Saguy is a UCLA Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies and author of What is Sexual Harassment? From Capitol Hill to the Sorbonne (California, 2003), What’s Wrong with Fat (Oxford, 2013), Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are: Identity Politics in the 21st Century, over 30 scientific journal articles and several op-eds published in leading news outlets. You can see more of her work at www.abigailsaguy.com and https://soc.ucla.edu/faculty/abigail-saguy.

Footnotes

[1] Abigail C. Saguy, What Is Sexual Harassment? From Capitol Hill to the Sorbonne (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press., 2003); “Employment Discrimination or Sexual Violence?: Defining Sexual Harassment in American, and French Law,” Law & Society Review 34, no. 4 (2000); “Europeanization or National Specificity? Legal Approaches to Sexual Harassment in France, 2002-2012,” Law & Society Review 52, no. 1 (2018).

By Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, Project Director & Saba Waheed, Research Director

Black people are leaving Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Black Worker Center noticed the trend while doing community organizing work in the area and teamed up with the UCLA Labor Center to conduct a study. Together, they analyzed 2010-2014 data from the American Community Survey and found that employment conditions have a lot to do with it. While the Black community was once a thriving part of L.A.’s landscape and remains integral to the county’s cultural and economic life, they are in the throes of a bona fide jobs crisis – and concern for Black workers has only intensified in response to the new administration.

Here are some of the study’s findings:

  • Black people are significantly more educated than previous generations, yet experience a lower labor participation rate and a significantly higher unemployment rate than white workers
  • Black workers are underrepresented in growing industry sectors and professional jobs and have lower rates in manager and supervisory positions
  • Whether working full or part time, Black workers earn only 75% of what White workers earn (for Black women, the wage gap is even more severe)
  • The Black community’s share of the total population declined from 13% to 8%

Based on their research, the UCLA Labor Center, Los Angeles Black Worker Center and the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment released the 2017 report Ready to Work, Uprooting Inequity: Black Workers in Los Angeles and a follow-up California study, as Black Angelenos still make up over one third of the state’s Black population. The report argues for the need to stabilize Black families and communities through community-driven public policy and corporate practice change that create good-paying, quality jobs accessible to Black workers.

Its release was also coupled with the launch of a local anti-discrimination enforcement campaign called #HealBlackFutures that would support policy efforts to respond to discrimination complaints (additional research supported this need for local enforcement).

As a leading global city, Los Angeles already has an important history of worker organizations and movements that have struggled to close the equity gap, increase the minimum wage, secure paid sick-days and provide a platform for worker voices. Since the release of this report, there has been an unprecedented display of Black working-class activism and mobilization in Los Angeles County.

In addition, the governor of California also directed the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to establish a civil rights advisory group composed of relevant state representatives, community advocates, employers and employees to study the feasibility of authorizing local governments to help enforce anti-discrimination statutes.

Studying Black workers in Los Angeles provides a helpful foundation off of which to both produce new research and develop policy initiatives addressing the state of U.S. labor in general. Evaluating the feasibility and clarifying the steps that local authorities are taking to remedy civil rights violations will be critical in curbing unfair treatment at work both in Los Angeles and on a larger scale.

The Los Angeles Black Worker Center is a grassroots action center in South Central Los Angeles dedicated to expanding access to quality jobs, addressing employment discrimination and improving jobs that employ Black workers. The Center’s vision is to build a world where Black workers thrive in an equitable economy that sustains family and community. For more than 50 years, the UCLA Labor Center has created innovative programs that offer a range of educational, research and public service activities within the university and in the broader community, especially among low-wage and immigrant workers.

 

Photo Credit: Leroy Hamilton

By Marcus Anthony Hunter

Scott Waugh Endowed Chair in the Division of the Social Sciences, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, CHAIR, Department of African American Studies; Principal Investigator

Over the course of the 20th century, Black Los Angeles has shifted from the east side of the city (Central Avenue in the early 1900s) to the west side of the city (the Crenshaw district after 1960). The organization of Black life along Central Avenue in the first half of the 1900s was produced by legalized forms of segregation, barring Black residents from accessing housing outside the Central Avenue area. Over time, however, Black residents integrated parts of the adjacent West Adams community that were not restricted by legal forms of discrimination.

Soon, though, the construction of the 10-Freeway in Los Angeles displaced much of the growing Black neighborhood in West Adams, pushing the center of Black Los Angeles further west to Leimert Park. By the 1960s, Leimert Park and the surrounding communities became major destinations for Black migrants from the American South, Africa and the Caribbean. With the passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, Black movement out of the Central Avenue area continued, leading to the rise of the area commonly known as South Central Los Angeles. Since then, this area has been the nexus of Black life, culture, entrepreneurship, arts and political power in Los Angeles.

Today, these neighborhoods are poised to undergo the most significant transformation they have experienced in decades. Los Angeles County has increasingly turned to transit improvement projects to alleviate traffic as the region continues to grow. In 2008 and 2016, voters approved sales tax increases to fund the expansion of regional transportation options, including: a light rail; a subway line that will connect the east and west parts of the city; and a Crenshaw/LAX Transit Line linking this network from the north southward to the Los Angeles Airport (LAX). City leaders consider it vitally important to connect the area’s rapidly improving transit infrastructure to LAX as well as the to the newly constructed Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park – especially in advance of major events like the Olympics and Super Bowl. But these changes, and the ways that residents negotiate and navigate them, will inevitably transform Black LA.

So, how are we researching these changes?

The Chocolate Cities of Los Angeles: A Digital and Public Archive of Black Los Angeles is a multi-year, collaborative, and interdisciplinary research project examining the processes of urban displacement, gentrification and rebranding (e.g. Destination Crenshaw) as it is occurring leading up to and through the 2019 opening of the Crenshaw/LAX transit line. Our aim is to develop a lasting and much-needed repository and digital archive of the myriad chocolate cities thriving, surviving and disappearing across Los Angeles and surrounding communities since the city’s founding. Our diverse 12-person team includes members from three countries (the United States, Nigeria, and India), over eight U.S. cities and three UCLA departments (African American Studies, Sociology, and Social Welfare).

Upcoming Events:

Please join us TOMORROW, May 9th, 2018 at the California African American Museum at 6:00 PM to honor and engage in conversation with authors Marcus Anthony Hunter and Zandria Robinson on their new book Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life. 

This event will encompass an engaging conversation with the authors, amongst other speakers such as Scot Brown, Alma Burrell, Lynnée Denise, and Frankie “Kash” Waddy.

CLICK HERE TO RSVP

By Joseph H. Manson

Professor of Anthropology

Among our acquaintances and co-workers are the calm and the worried, the conscientious and the disorganized, the kind and the callous. Is there an overall pattern to the variation among these and other personality dimensions? And can this pattern be linked to people’s biological characteristics, such as how fast they grow up and how quickly they age? My research explores personality variation using “life history theory,” an evolutionary biological framework that describes and explains how people decide to dedicate their time and energy between the competing demands of physical growth, health maintenance, dating and parenting. A “slower” life history strategy (LHS) means investment in long-term health maintenance, monogamous relationships and a more nurturing, involved approach to parenting. In terms of personality traits, this slower LHS is usually associated with people who exhibit higher levels of conscientiousness, agreeableness and emotional stability.

Previous data collection in this area has relied almost exclusively on questionnaires. My current project will use direct behavioral observation to supplement and validate these “self-report measures,” in order to determine whether some of these traits often appear together in sets and clusters. I recruited 92 UCLA students to spend three days wearing an iPod running the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR) app, which made a 30-second audio recording every 12.5 minutes between 6 a.m. and midnight. Participants knew the overall sampling pattern, but not the particular times when the app was recording. They also kept an hourly event diary noting their general activities. At the end of the three-day recording period, participants had the opportunity to listen privately to their audio clips and to delete any they wished (only about 1% were deleted). Participants also completed two self-report personality inventories and a questionnaire developed by other researchers, which purports to measure LHS.

One team of undergraduate research assistants coded the 21,000+ audio clips for over 40 activities and behaviors, including class attendance, arguing and watching TV or video. We also transcribed every intelligible word (almost 80,000 of them) of the participants’ speech. A second team of research assistants used each participant’s complete set of clips and event diary as the basis for describing their personality using an instrument called the California Adult Q-Sort (CAQ).

My analyses of these data confirm that people whose personality most closely resembles a slow LHS CAQ template (created by other researchers) are high in conscientiousness, agreeableness and emotional stability. However, in contrast to some earlier claims, the other two major dimensions of personality – extraversion and openness to experience – have more complicated relationships to LHS. For example: among the facets of extraversion, interpersonal warmth was associated with a slower LHS, whereas excitement-seeking was associated with a faster LHS. I also found LHS-related differences in word use: for example, people with a faster LHS use more “negative emotion words.” As a follow-up, my research assistants are now coding participants’ inferred emotional states directly from isolated audio clips. Other ongoing analyses are exploring the relationships of self-reported levels of the so-called “Dark Triad” traits (narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy) to both LHS and everyday social interaction patterns.

Joseph H. Manson, a Professor in the Anthropology Department, is an evolutionary social scientist interested in primate behavior, human ethology and social interaction, and personality variation.