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Blackand Brown in Los Angeles Book Review

Blackand Brown in Los Angeles is a modern text that is broad andfar-reaching exploring the multiethnic city of Los Angeles. The bookchiefly focuses on the interactions and correlations between AfricanAmericans and Latinos in a highly diverse United States city. Thebook seeks to exhibit that Los Angeles is the perfect place toexplore and examine racial politic while simultaneously providing thebasis for wide-ranging discussions about the multiethnic UnitedStates. The text is profoundly inclined in the cultural studiesoutlook to offer faculty, students, and other readers a comprehensionof the various forms of cultural exchange and borrowing that hasshaped the city in which the people from these two ethnic groupsintersect, cross paths and interact in a highly diverse urbansetting. The authors seek to incorporate cultural and artisticconcepts with economic and politics in their quest of expounding onthe paradigms of a coalition, cooperation, and conflict. The themesof shared intimacies and tensions are repeatedly exhibited throughoutthe text. The text is highly timely given the current demographicshifts in the Los Angeles city. The authors have partnered to createa masterpiece of thought-provoking essays, which help incontextualizing and reshaping the brown Angelenos and Blackrelationships in the city and country. The text also seems to moveaway from the conflict and cooperation aspects to using essentialtropes to depict and characterize the linkage between these twofactions, and the history of Los Angeles. Although the text appearsto be a historical book offering an overview of the southernCalifornian metropolis, it is much more than a historical analysis ofLos Angeles. It is but a cultural studies text, which aims atredefining the procedure of making and unmaking the black and brownidentities in the city by analyzing the various intersections thatthese groups use to negotiate their connection from immigration torace to their forged allegiance as the Los Angeles football teamfans.

Theauthors Josh Kun and Laura Pulido are all professors at theUniversity of Southern California (USC). The works of Professor Kunusually concentrates on the politics and arts of cultural linkageswith emphasis on the cultures of globalization, popular music,US-Mexico border, and Los Angeles among others. Professor Kun is alsoa curator, essayist, and journalist. He has co-edited numerous books,and he is a distinguished lecturer. He is also a music director amongother aspects that deal with art and culture. He is a graduate Ph.D.holder from the UC Berkley in ethnic studies. He has also worked asat the University of California as an associate professor of English.Similarly, Laura Pulido is a member of staff at USC. She is aprofessor of American studies and ethnicity at the campus. She isalso a renowned author of various texts including ‘apeople’s guide to Los Angeles’published in 2012, and ‘black,brown and yellow…’published in 2006. Thus, the authors’ massive experience inAmerican studies and ethnicity offers them the authority to discussissues in the field ethnic relations. The authors are proficientprofessors at USC dealing with matters of ethnicity, culture and thecity of Los Angeles. Therefore, this gives them credibility todiscuss matters of ethnic relations in based on their outstandingpublished works and qualifications as professors. Moreover, theauthors are also residents of California since they are professors atUSC, meaning that they have first-hand experiences of the happeningsand race associations taking place in the city of Los Angeles. Thus,this offers them credibility and background to elaborate on theethnic relations between Latinos and African Americans in the city ofLos Angeles.

Thetext offers readers a thrilling insight into Los Angeles areafocusing on particular places, times, and spaces to explore novelways of comprehending the city. Although it touches on the backgroundof the city, the text is not a historical examination of the city. Onthe contrary, the text is chiefly about the connections andinteractions between the African Americans and Latinos in the city.It is exploring the identities of these people and how they arecoopering and interacting in such a diverse city (Kun &amp Pulido,2014). Since, the book is a scholarly contribution it analyzescultural integration and exchange, which is far-reaching and beyondthe common perspective founded on race, economic, race and politics.Instead, the text chooses to move toward a novel comprehension ofthese process by involving analyzes of the body, sound, and artinfusion. Thus, the text stays true to the radical way in examiningand understanding Los Angeles and its people, as well as exhibitingthe unique culture of the city. Nonetheless, although the text israllying people and readers to appreciate of the ethnic groupsdiscussed, its chief goal is to mobilize readers to move past thetypical frames of conflict, cooperation, and coalition. It seeksnovel ways of comprehending how the interconnection nature of the twofactions is ultimately influential on both factions in a symbioticgrowth and development process (Kun &amp Pulido, 2014).

Thetext is highly impressive in the manner in which it is layering andportraying different essays, which help to offer educative andinformative information about the city, its culture, and people. Theauthors continuously appeal to the readers, to consider the manner inwhich each faction impacts the other comprehends of their culture,place and experience in the city through philosophical essays, whichspur the readers to reflect on the complexities of the groups. Forexample, ‘Race, Real Estate, and the Mexican Mafia: A Report fromthe Black and Latino Killing Fields’ author Sam Quinones narratesthe prolonged effects of racially inspired and violence toward theAfrican American community in the Southern California region byLatinos. Quinones narrate ways in which the rise of interracialkillings that are led by the Mexican Mafia resulted in the burdenedcorrelation and intense racial tensions between the brown Angelenosand Black people in the city (Kun &amp Pulido, 2014). The essayistelaborates that the Latino young male population selected a uniquehairstyle of the clean-shaven bald heads as an aesthetic thateventually communicated gang affiliation and danger to blackcommunities that were highly afraid for their lives and safety.Additionally, Nery Gabriel Lemus uses his essay ‘On Fallen Natureand the Two Cities’ to examine the cultural exchange thattranspires between the two factions by utilizing the line-up fadestyle haircut as a symbol of depicting the present hostile divisionthat is traced with both groups. Lemus uses art to record theprocedure within barbershops and mobilize dialogue concerning theshared practice, which contributes to each faction’s autonomousidentity formation. The essayist proposes that corporeal aesthetic isa foundation of racially motivated violence and discrimination in thesociety (Kun &amp Pulido, 2014).

Forexample, the text induces the readers to analyze the distinctexperience of each faction instead of developing a falsely sharedhistory that ignores Ethno-racial tensions. The text is divided intofive parts to provide readers with an overview of the various aspectsthat are explored. The authors tend to accumulate information fromwidespread topics that help readers to acquire a detailed knowledgeabout the two groups while also leaving room for profound andthoughtful examination by introducing readers to a novel,nontraditional to analyze such correlations. For instance, theauthors narrate of the Los Angeles County jail, which contributorOrtiz Cuevaz examines on his essay ‘Race and L.A. Human: RaceRelations and Violence in Globalized Los Angeles (Kun &amp Pulido,2014).’ Thus, from such settings and spaces we get to examine therealities of these groups in society. The authors also explore theirdiscussion by utilizing different chapters such as urban histories,the economics of people and places, city cultures and a reportingblack and brown to provide varied factions voices, which cometogether to construct a new story and uplift the narrations of thecommunities that comprises the Society of Los Angeles.

Moreover,Denise M. Sandoval uses her article entitled ‘The politics of lowand slow/Bajito Suavrcito’ to draw interesting perspectives throughspace. She uses the article to exhibit the manners in which thelow-rider culture was utilized to reclaim space using the traditionof being seen and seeing. The author also returns the readers to theshared cultural aesthetic that is a dominant theme in the book. Sheuses her essay to exhibit how sound and movement had been utilized inways that are beyond radio music or the low-rider cruising down theboulevard, to portray and serve the psychosocial influences, whicheach group contains on each other. The essay also examines ways inwhich the black and brown communities’ story fits in the city ofLos Angeles through the exterior forces that transcend culturaldomain (Kun &amp Pulido, 2014).

Furthermore,although the book does not concisely define power it does imply powerthrough its argument. In the text, essayist Gaye Theresa Johnson usesher essay to discuss the theory of spatial and sonic entitlement as aradical means of exploring the two groups’ interactions with theirenvironment and ways in which they are preserving their identitiesand space. Johnson explores ways in which members of these groupscongregate, as well as the entitlements, which they are seeking intheir society. She explains that the black youth in this city usesmusic to enact and defy borders of social membership and space usingvaried modes such as attending concerts and low-riding (Kun &ampPulido, 2014). Thus, this portrays the aspect of power throughempowerment and independence of the youth.

Inconclusion, Kun and Pulido do a commendable work in exploring therelations of the Brown Angelenos and black communities in LosAngeles. I found the book insightful and highly enlightening. Thebook was also instrumental in expanding my knowledge about the LosAngeles history. I find the text as offering a novel perspective,which requires to be explored further to determine ways ofencouraging constructive coalition between the black and brownAngelenos in the city. From the text, it is clear that the twocommunities contain a vast and rich background and history thatneither is willing to abandon or leave behind. The text encourages usto appreciate the unique histories of others that are different fromus by retracing the journeys that have brought us thus far asdistinct and diverse groups in society.


Kun,J., &amp Pulido, L. (2014). Blackand Brown in Los Angeles: Beyond Conflict and Coalition.Berkeley: University of California Press.

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