Wednesday, June 01, 2005

race and riots

I try to write about Los Angeles, but the truth is I only really know a small sliver of this city. I've been here for almost two years and I wanted to start this blog to help me understand the city - a place I"m simultaneously fascinated and repelled by. LA's history is also still a mystery to me - back when I was in grad school in london I took a class on global cities and wrote my papers on LA, knowing I was moving here to complete school.

it became clear LA isn't really a "global" city by most measures - its a city of extremes. extreme social and spatial polarization, extreme ecological disruption (both man made and natural), extreme consumption (material, environmental, spiritual, you name it). extreme self-destruction.

and its not a new phenomenon. the 40th anniversary of watts is fast approaching. I was in college during the king riots, not even a glimmer in my mama's eye during the watts riots. so it was with great interest that I listened to today's day to day on NPR, where keith fleming, a reporter from newsweek there to cover the story was almost beaten to death. a fascinating interview him as he describes the event of that week in 1965 but I'm left to wonder - is this one piece in an ongoing feature? I understand interviewing a member of the press to discuss his eyewitness account can connote authority or objectivity but that ended the moment he was almost beaten to death (if it ever existed before). why not interview someone from watts who was there? is there not a former panther who could talk about the events that week? or maybe a former latimes classifieds messenger who became the paper's only black reporter to cover the riots? ok, he may be harder to track down, but surely NPR can find a voice from the community who can offer a 10 min interview 40 years later. in any event, its still a pretty fascinating piece.


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