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.

 

milliondollarhoods.org

By Kelly Lytle Hernandez

Professor of History and African-American Studies

Los Angeles County operates the largest jail system on Earth. At a cost of nearly $1 billion annually, more than 20,000 people are caged every night in county jails and city lockups. Conventional wisdom says that incarceration advances public safety by removing violent and serious offenders from the streets – but the data shows that isn’t necessarily true.

According to Million Dollar Hoods (MDH), a digital mapping project that uses police data to monitor incarceration costs in Los Angeles, not all neighborhoods are equally impacted by L.A.’s massive jail system. In fact, L.A.’s nearly billion-dollar jail budget is largely committed to incarcerating many people from just a few neighborhoods, in some of which more than $1 million is spent annually on incarceration. Leading causes of arrest in these areas are primarily drug possession and DUIs, and the majority of those arrested are black, brown and poor.

The bottom line: the data shows that local authorities are investing millions in locking up the county’s most economically vulnerable, geographically isolated and racially marginalized populations for drug and alcohol-related crimes. These are L.A.’s “Million Dollar Hoods.” Maybe they deserve more.

Additional information on “Million Dollar Hoods” (MDH):

Launched in summer 2016, MDH is an ongoing collaboration between UCLA researchers and local community-based organizations, including Youth Justice Coalition, Los Angeles Community Action Network, Dignity and Power Now, JusticeLA and more. Together, we conceptualized the project, acquired the data and mapped it, making a wealth of data broadly available to advocates and activists who are pressing local authorities to divest from police and jails and invest in the community-based services needed to build a more equitable community: namely health, housing, employment, and educational services. To date, the MDH maps and reports have received significant media coverage and are being marshaled by advocates to advance a variety of justice reinvestment campaigns.  Our research on cannabis enforcement shaped the development of the city’s social equity program. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty references our research in his report on the criminalization of homelessness in America. Our report on the money bail system was the first to document how the money bail system amounts to asset stripping in Black and Latino Los Angeles.

Professor Kelly Lytle Hernandez (History/African American Studies) leads the Million Dollar Hoods project. Her research team is comprised of an interdisciplinary group of UCLA staff and students, including Danielle Dupuy (School of Public Health), Terry Allen (Graduate School of Education), Isaac Bryan (Luskin School of Public Policy), Jamil Cineus (Institute for Digital Research and Education), Marcelo Clarke (African American Studies/Sociology), Chibumkem Ezenekwe, Luz Flores (African American Studies), Oceana Gilliam (Luskin School of Public Policy), Harold Grigsby (African American Studies), Andrew Guerrero (International Development Studies), Sofia Espinoza (Luskin School of Public Policy), Yoh Kawano (Institute for Digital Research and Education), Albert Kochaphum (Institute for Digital Research and Education), Ricardo Patlan (Political Science),  Alvin Teng (Luskin School of Public Policy), Taylore Thomas (African American Studies), and Estefania Zavala (Luskin School of Public Policy).

 

Related post: Million Dollar Hoods Goes to Sacramento