Perceptions of Minority Residents on Coalition Building in South Los Angeles
Between 1970 and 1997, Hispanics in South Los Angeles increased from 10% of the population to approximately 50%. During the same period, 300,000 manufacturing jobs were lost and replaced by low-wage positions held by immigrants. At the same time, small businesses shifted from African-Americans to Latinos and Asians. After tensions erupted in widespread violence in 1992, incidents have continued between Latinos, African-Americans and other ethnic groups.
A 2007 paper by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, “Beyond the Racial Divide: Perceptions of Minority Residents on Coalition Building in South Los Angeles” (PDF) examines the factors that have led to this situation and explores possible solutions.
The paper’s findings include:
- The main factors leading to ethnic and racial tensions were poverty and inequalities in access to resources and living-wage jobs.
- Women were more likely than men to indicate experiencing racial slurs.
- Prejudice or racism was not considered a serious problem among youth, but youths felt that older generations held negative stereotypes of youth.
- African-American participants perceived competition for jobs and resources with Latinos. Latino participants agreed with this perception but did not perceive competition with African-Americans.
- African-Americans perceived that neither group could empathize with the other, thus, unique challenges of each community must be addressed first before meaningful collaboration could progress. Latinos, however, felt that both communities should work toward common goals and avoid alienating the other.
As a possible solution, the author suggests that public schools and human-relation commissions actively pursue programs to improve inter-ethnic relations.
Photo from “Gang War” blog. Tags: California, Hispanic, Latino, African-American, race
Note to instructor: The suggested assignments are designed for flexibility. They can be used in whole or part and can be adapted to a particular task -- for example, the newswriting assignments could be applied to the writing of the headline, the lead, the nut graph or the full story. Material from the assignments could also be combined with other material, for example, in the writing of a background, feature or local-angle story.
Read the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute paper titled "Beyond the Racial Divide: Perceptions of Minority Residents on Coalition Building in South Los Angeles."
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
Read the issue-related Los Angeles Times article titled "The fantasy of L.A.'s 'race war.'"
- If you were to rewrite the article based on knowledge of the study, what key changes would you make?
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.