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Dr. Alfredo Huante is an interdisciplinary social scientist whose research interests rest at the intersection of critical race studies, urban studies, and Latinx studies. His recent research project examines how policymakers, stakeholders, residents, and other urban actors mobilize racial categories in ways that advance gentrification. Drawing from archival, ethnographic, and interview data, Dr. Huante illustrates the ways race and racism adapt to maintain racial inequality even as neighborhoods and cities become more racially diverse and majority-minority.

Dr. Huante is currently a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Previously, he was a postdoctoral research fellow for the Interdisciplinary Research Incubator for Study of (In)Equality (IRISE) at the University of Denver. In addition to a Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Southern California, Dr. Huante also holds a master’s in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles.

 

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In November 2019, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office Civic Memory Working Group convened its first meeting consisting of 40 historians, indigenous elders and scholars, architects, artists, curators, designers, and other civic and cultural leaders. Many of UCLA’s brightest minds were at the table. The charge for those present was to produce a series of recommendations to help Los Angeles engage more productively and honestly with its past, particularly where that past has been whitewashed or buried.

UCLA Members of the Mayor’s Office Civic Memory Working Group:

Advisors to the Working Group:

The Working Group’s report, including a print volume and an accompanying website, was released on April 15, 2021. The report has specific policy recommendations throughout, yet below are 18 key recommendations for moving forward:

The Hollywood Sign in Ruin

Continue and Expand the Conversation

1. Spend the second half of 2021, virtually or in person as the COVID-19 pandemic allows, discussing these recommendations and other materials in this report with a range of Los Angeles communities. These listening sessions should explore, among other subjects, how the City can shift its focus in stewarding civic memory from acting as a gatekeeper to a facilitator, giving fuller voice to community memory and bottom-up representation. Use these sessions to begin to turn the recommendations on this list into policy or built markers of civic memory.

2. Develop programs to train all city employees in civic history and Indigeneity, as they are hired and on an ongoing basis.

Carlos Diniz: A History of Drawing the Future

Increase Access and Share Information

3. Create a new City Historian position, or a three-person council of historians and community elders, on a rotating two-year basis, looking to the City’s Poet Laureate position as a model and potentially drawing from the ranks of college and university history departments and independent scholars.

4. Organize a task force of museum professionals, working artists, historians, Indigenous and other community leaders, and others to explore the creation of a Museum of the City of Los Angeles, with the understanding that this group may recommend instead supporting similar work inside museums and other cultural institutions already established.

5. Complete and publish an audit of the monuments and memorials in Los Angeles on public and publicly accessible land.

6. Broaden the accessibility and impact of the Los Angeles City Archives and Records Center as a basis for new civic memory initiatives.

7. Create a room or other space inside City Hall, open to the public, to celebrate civic memory and the Indigenous history of the site and its surroundings. This room should include both historical records and archives and rotating exhibits and displays related to civic architecture and the history of Los Angeles.

1871 Anti-Chinese Massacre

Recognize Indigenous History

8. Begin the process of adopting an Indigenous Land Acknowledgement Policy for the Mayor’s Office and for the City, in close collaboration with the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission (NAIC), as outlined in the summary appearing later in this volume from the Indigenous Land Acknowledgement subcommittee.

9. Create a new, full-time staff position within the Mayor’s Office to serve as official liaison to the NAIC and the broader Indigenous community.

10. Embed historians and Indigenous leaders on a compensated basis in City-led planning efforts, for example the Taylor Yard/G2 Equity Plan for a site along the Los Angeles River. Preserve or Acknowledge the Various Histories Embedded in the Built Environment

11. Take steps to protect the architecture and civic memory of the recent past, beginning with an effort to extend the Department of City Planning’s SurveyLA initiative from 1980 to the year 2000.

12. Strengthen financial and other penalties for the prohibited demolition of significant architecture, particularly residential architecture.

13. Pursue the expansion of Historic-Cultural Monument status to include thematic or non-contiguous designations, for example the Bungalow Court, and to protect the body of work of a single prominent firm or social or cultural movement.

14. Consider a City-led effort to mark and make visible the boundaries of racially exclusive zoning and lending practices in housing, e.g. redlining, or the communities displaced or disfigured by freeway construction.

6710 La Tijera Blvd.

Reconsider Memorials and Difficult Histories

15. Create a garden or series of gardens dedicated to the essential workers of Los Angeles.

16. Arrange specific community-engagement sessions during the remainder of 2021, guided by the recommendations in this report, to solicit ideas for commemorating the 30th anniversary, in 2022, of the 1992 civic unrest in Los Angeles. The goal should be a range of commemorative approaches, rather than a single event or memorial.

17. Work with the leadership of the Chinese American Museum and a range of community groups to develop citywide commemorations, considering both ephemeral and permanent forms, to mark the 150th anniversary of the 1871 Anti-Chinese Massacre on October 24, 2021.

18. Develop strategies to recontextualize outdated or fraught memorials as an alternative to removal—although removal will, in certain cases, remain the best option.

To read the full report, click HERE.

In LA Rising: Korean Relations with Blacks and Latinos after Civil Unrest, UCLA Anthropology Professor Kyeyoung Park revisits the 1992 Los Angeles unrest and provides a deep dive of the interrelations between minority groups. She provides a comprehensive examination of how race, class citizenship, and culture impacted relations between multiple groups in South Los Angeles. This is an important read as many of the past issues examined are still relevant today.

Interview Chapters:

0:04 – Intro

0:53 – What is the main argument/contribution of the book?

5:09 – How did racial cartography allow you to examine relations between Korean, Black, and Latino populations?

10:09 – How does your book add to and/or challenge the narratives around the 1992 civil unrest?

13:00 – How does the book connect with current unrest related to police brutality?

15:34 – Why should someone read/assign this book?

To learn more, check out Professor Park’s book LA Rising: Korean Relations with Blacks and Latinos After Civil Unrest.

 

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Festivals in the City of Angels

This series connects museum programs with communities across the city in order to better understand manifestations of lived religions in Los Angeles and honor local expressions of global faiths. This series is generously supported by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday, created in 1966, following the Watts Rebellion, to bring the Black community together. Today, it is celebrated annually around the world, most notably on the West Coast in Leimert Park Village, the vibrant heart of Black culture in Los Angeles. The Fowler has partnered with We Love Leimert for a program honoring Kwanzaa and its seven principles and symbols rooted in the sacred teachings of Asante and Zulu harvest celebrations. Attendees will hear from cultural bearers and figures from the Leimert Park Village community who are organizing for Black liberation and self-determination.

The program will culminate with a dance class led by Kamilah Marsh and Keti Ciofassa, giving participants an opportunity to embody the principles of Kwanzaa.

This program is co-presented by UCLA’s Department of African American Studies, in partnership with We Love Leimert.

Time: Dec 17, 2020 05:00 PM PST

RSVP Link: https://ucla.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYlf-yvrjouGdQ4xksj24Hvq9SH8Bz9-zRp

By Sophia L. Ángeles, Graduate Student Researcher; Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Project Director, UCLA Labor Center; and Saba Waheed, Research Director, UCLA Labor Center

This past June, the UCLA Labor Center, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Community College District Dolores Huerta Labor Institute and California State University, Long Beach, published two studies examining workers and learners—college students who also work—and their unique educational and work experiences. We employed a methodology that was student-driven, engaging more than 450 undergraduate students to collect 869 surveys and conduct 75 interviews with UCLA, California Community College, and California State University workers and learners across Los Angeles County. Our hope is that these findings will provide information for colleges, employers, and policymakers to improve conditions for workers and learners.

Two-thirds of workers and learners work every single term of their undergraduate careers—the new normal for many students pursuing higher education. A majority work in low-wage jobs in the service industry. Forced to work as many hours as possible to make ends meet, two-thirds miss at least one educational opportunity because of work duties. Juggling work and school leads many to forgo internship and work-study opportunities in their fields of study that could improve opportunities in their future careers. Their situation is so stressful and overwhelming that 40% of workers and learners have considered withdrawing from school.

Graphic: Eunice Ho

Iris López, a recent UCLA Labor Studies graduate, explains the predicaments workers and learners face in their struggle to attend school and keep up with living expenses:

“My biggest concern has always been my ability to finance my education. My mother is a single parent who works in the fields. I feel guilty asking for help because I know she is struggling herself. Education should not cost us our ability to eat or cause concern over how we’re going to pay the next few units.”

 

Graphic: Eunice Ho

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated conditions for workers and learners, as half were laid off, terminated, or furloughed in April and May. As schools moved to minimize the spread of COVID-19, one quarter of workers and learners were forced to make housing changes, such as moving back in with family or vacating student housing. The housing situation has further impacted learners who must attend classes remotely while managing home responsibilities, like caring for younger siblings or family members who have fallen ill.

Graphic: Eunice Ho

What can be done?

Current trends point to increasing tuition and living expenses for college students, making it likely that more will have to work to offset those financial burdens.

Addressing the needs of workers and learners requires investing in California’s education system to achieve the following:

  • Support learners as workers by ensuring a living wage, accommodating work schedules, and supporting students’ workplace organizing efforts.
  • Strengthen career and educational pathways by making career resources more accessible, supporting paid internships that advance career goals, and increasing opportunities for networking and mentorship.
  • Support workers as learners by making college affordable or free and expanding work-study opportunities.
  • Provide holistic support by increasing access to mental health services and addressing food and housing insecurity.

 

Report: Unseen Costs: The Experiences of Workers and Learners in Los Angeles County (click to download)

Brief: A Survey of Los Angeles Workers and Learners During COVID-19 (click to download)

 

Sophia L. Ángeles is a graduate student researcher with the UCLA Labor Center’s Worker and Learner project and a UCLA PhD candidate. Her research focuses on the intersection of immigration and language to examine newcomer youths’ educational experiences and their K–16 trajectories.

Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Ed.D., is a project director at the UCLA Labor Center and teaches for UCLA Labor Studies and the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Her research and teaching focus on developing culturally relevant, participatory educational models with first- and second-generation university students, community members, and youth, with a focus on the organizing efforts of low-wage workers to combat labor and workplace violations.

Saba Waheed is research director at the UCLA Labor Center. She has over fifteen years of research experience developing projects with strong community participation. With her team at the Labor Center, she coordinated the first ever study of domestic work employers, launched a study of young people in the service economy, and conducted research on the taxi, garment, nail salon, construction, and restaurant industries.

In a recent KCRW Greater L.A. podcast titled, “LA Freeways: The infrastructure of racism,” UCLA Professor Eric Avila spoke about how White Supremacy motivated some city transportation plans. For example, “Boyle Heights…was redlined by banks and home insurance providers because its mix of races was considered unsafe. ‘It was described by the federal government as hopelessly heterogeneous. A Homeowners Loan Corporation report called it an ideal location for a slum clearance project. That slum clearance project was highway construction,’ says Avila.”

To listen and read the entire podcast, click HERE.

Demonstrators march through the streets of Hollywood, California, on June 2, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. – Anti-racism protests have put several US cities under curfew to suppress rioting, following the death of George Floyd. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

In this important piece featured in the Los Angeles Times, UCLA’s Dr. Marcus Anthony Hunter, Scott Waugh Endowed Chair in the Division of the Social Sciences, professor of sociology, and chair of the department of African American Studies, presents a conversation he recently had with some of the nation’s foremost writers on Los Angeles to discuss how the city’s racial history informs the present moment and the continued fight against racism and injustice.

Dr. Hunter writes:

“Black people’s lives have remained vulnerable and unprotected by the very government that abolished the institution of slavery. As the planter class took its last sips of power and blood, they managed to bequeath us a century and a half of debt and devastation. Racism is their lasting hex on a country that would dare to try and outlive them, an institutionally effective death spell killing black people every day.”

To read the full article, “How Does L.A.’s Racial Past Resonate Now? #Blacklivesmatter’s Originator and 5 Writers Discuss,” click HERE.

The grassroots organization People for People (Gente por Gente) LA grew organically with the help of UCLA students to respond to the needs of the community, particularly during COVID-19. Find out how researchers, Dr. Leigh-Anna Hidalgo and Rosanna Simons, at UCLA along with community members are making a difference and how you can get involved.

Interview Chapters:

0:53 – Initial Involvement with People for People (Gente por Gente)

3:59 – Genesis and Purpose of People for People LA

6:44 – Stories of Students and Community Volunteers Helping the Elderly

10:59 – How to Get Involved

 

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Professors Chandra L. Ford (UCLA), Bita Amani (Charles Drew University), Keith Norris (UCLA), Kia Skrine Jeffers (UCLA), and Randall Akee (UCLA), wrote the following open letter that outlines eight recommendations to prioritize equity in policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

An Open Letter to Policy Makers and Public Health Officials on

The Need to Prioritize Equity in Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Epidemic

 April 1, 2020

Aggressive actions are necessary to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the U.S. and the world. Some of these actions have resulted in policies of shelter-in-place, monitoring the movement and activities of the population, increased testing of the population and the closure of schools and other public assemblies. As experts in health disparities, however, we are concerned by a critical oversight that is likely to exacerbate the epidemic in the long run: the inadequate attention to health equity. Former president of the American Public Health Association (APHA), Dr. Camara Jones, defines health equity as “assurance of the conditions for optimal health for all people.” There is a crucial need to incorporate aspects of health equity into all public policies enacted to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

In the past, when health emergencies have occurred, failure to acknowledge and address health equity generated persistent and preventable damage to populations that often worsened over time. For example, scholars have documented such experiences in Venezuela (1992-1993) and Haiti (2010) with cholera epidemics. Short term thinking focused only on the immediate disease agent (i.e., bacterium or virus) and did little to eliminate the societal inequities which fostered the environment for the pandemic in the first place. Those inequities shape the nature and impact of its spread.

Numerous studies document that racism, anti-immigrant sentiment and racial scapegoating facilitate the dismissal of the health concerns and perspectives of undocumented immigrants, racial/ethnic minorities, incarcerated persons, people living on reservations, people living in poor communities and other vulnerable communities. Often, the concerns and particular needs of these individuals are overlooked or dismissed in the creation of public health policies in times of need and crises.

Assumptions about the availability of and access to resources often do not reflect the reality for many of these distressed and overlooked communities. For instance, in recommending frequent handwashing, one must also ask whether this is feasible for residents of neighborhoods with unsafe (or unavailable) tap water to regularly wash their hands with warm water and soap? Or, is it realistic for people detained in the prisons to maintain social distances of at least six feet? If the answer to any such question is no, then we have a professional responsibility to develop appropriate alternatives. Failure to extend recommendations, testing and treatment to such populations in a timely and appropriate manner is tantamount to designing an intervention that ignores over them completely.

Drawing on more than 500 studies published over the last twenty years on how social injustices produce health inequities, we urge serious consideration of eight recommendations to prioritize equity in policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

1.     Prioritize the needs of diverse vulnerable populations at each stage of the response. These include, but are not limited to, immigrant communities, including the Chinese and Asian American communities that have already been the subject of online and in-person abuse and harassment, racial and ethnic minority communities, homeless persons, incarcerated persons, and people living in poor as well as rural communities.

2.     Challenge narratives of the epidemic that scapegoat Chinese people or other Asians. Stereotyping in this way leads to fear, rude or discriminatory treatment, delayed testing or care, and ultimately further spread of the virus.

3.     Ensure members of these populations have a seat at the leadership table in planning and carrying out the responses. That allows them to share directly the insights needed to develop effective, sustainable strategies for their communities.

4.     Develop multiple prevention and intervention strategies, some that address the needs of the overall population and others that address the unique needs of marginalized groups. Recognize that the circumstances affecting vulnerable populations are multilayered. Accordingly, the solutions needed in these populations warrant greater initial investments than do the solutions needed in more advantaged communities.

5.     Find out what the needs and wishes of these marginalized populations are. Many of the needs are shaped by longstanding structural inequalities, such as living in racially segregated neighborhoods, and related constraints affecting transportation, employment, education and healthcare access.

6.     Consider the obstacles to implementing any potential policy or strategy that may already exist in diverse populations and situations. For instance, some communities may have barriers to handwashing due to unsafe or unavailable water sources; they may also lack access to personal protective equipment (latex gloves, masks) or to healthcare providers.

7.     Allocate sufficient resources in the budget to implement the prevention and intervention strategies in the most marginalized communities. The budget must ensure the plan can be fully implemented.

8.     Acknowledge that all communities have and draw on resilience. Noted global health educator, Collins Airhihenbuwa, emphasizes that every community, no matter how marginalized, has sources of resilience. These sources of resilience enables communities to sustain themselves and persevere even after the public health professionals have left.

The evidence from history is clear. Movement toward equity has always required health equity champions to fight from inside while community members organized in the streets. Unless our responses to the COVID-19 pandemic challenge its racial framing and prioritize the needs of racial/ethnic minorities, immigrants, poor and other vulnerable groups, COVID-19 is likely to persist in these pockets of our society. As long as it does, COVID-19 will remain a threat to the health of all. It has been suggested that a nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable members. This is our chance to show how great and equitable a nation we can be.

Sincerely,

Chandra L. Ford, PhD, MPH, MLIS

Bita Amani, PhD, MHS

Keith Norris, MD, PhD

Kia Skrine Jeffers, PhD, RN, PHN, SAG-AFTRA

Randall Akee, PhD

UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

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In the Department of Communication at UCLA, the Co-Mind Lab has rerouted some of its “big data” projects to create an informational resource about the coronavirus crisis. This resource offers members of the UCLA community and wider public a bird’s-eye view of news media coverage of the crisis, including a Los Angeles “dashboard” that maps positive cases in the county.

https://co-mind.org/cogmedia/browse/covid.php

Dr. Rick Dale, professor in the Department of Communication, who leads the Co-Mind Lab, further discusses this important and timely research in the following piece:

As social scientists, we ask questions that are of fundamental importance to the situation: How is the media covering the crisis? What are changing themes or trends in wider news coverage? How can we quantify and explore the public’s conception of the health crisis? It is now well established that public discourse and behavior—social and cognitive issues—are also of great importance to public health.

The CogMedia (“Cognition and Media”) project is a new endeavor of our group, and its goal is to find linkages between cognitive science and media activity. For example, our group is testing how research findings in the lab regarding language processing (how the mind processes language) can help to predict the spread of information in news media.

The project collects and analyzes many thousands of news items from major media each week. Despite its early stage of development, we decided to release information and resources to the public. One free resource is an application programming interface (API), so other researchers can use CogMedia’s data in a programming language called R. A second resource includes a news consumption platform for members of the public to track major news themes outside of “big tech” filtering.

At the onset of the crisis here, we reworked our project’s underlying code into a dashboard devoted to COVID-19. This dashboard is an “at-a-glance” tool, using automatic algorithms and data. We have hundreds of thousands of stories, and so we have a record of how news coverage has evolved, along with incoming coverage by the hundreds or thousands of stories per day. It seemed important to shape this information into something of direct relevance to this rapidly moving situation, and share it widely for all who may take interest in our approach.

For example, one resource we share is a kind of analysis on news stories referred to as the “newsgraph.” Stories that are related in their language, such as the words they use, can be interconnected into a diagram. This network diagram quickly reveals “clusters” of news stories and themes.

Consider the diagram below, from the morning of my writing (March 26th, 2020). We see the largest cluster of related news stories is the passage by the Senate of the coronavirus assistance bill. With this visualization, users can quickly see where much of the media attention is going. The network marks stories that are widely shared on social media (the size of the dot) and the relative recency (new stories are in red).

We also created a specific Los Angeles dashboard in the system. Here we have used Google’s API and case lists from LA Public Health to offer an animated map of positive test results across the region. In addition, we filtered results to prominent news items from the Los Angeles Times and a Twitter feed from LA Public Health itself. We will continue to expand this offering over the coming days and weeks as we organize our own information and integrate information from other sources.

More broadly, the Department of Communication at UCLA specializes in this “big data” research. Faculty in the department are developing cutting-edge tools and studies. They are creating an unprecedented TV News archive called NewsScape, political and social media analysis, and media-analysis applications using state-of-the-art machine learning and other quantitative methods. For example, the NewsScape contains over 15 years of wide ranging TV news, and faculty Tim Groeling and collaborators are continuously adding to the archive. The Department of Communication will be admitting its first graduate students in a new Ph.D. program this fall, and there will be great interest among our new students in using these tools to further our understanding of the lead up and evolution of the present crisis.

 

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