Black Los Angeles is a terrific book edited by UCLA’s Darnell Hunt and Ana-Christina Ramon. The entire edited volume is worth reading, but there are two selections I want to focus on. The first:
Hunt, D. and A-C Ramon: “Killing “Killer King”: The Los Angeles Times and a “Troubled” Hospital in the ‘Hood”
Moore, M. “Black and Gay in LA: The Relationships Black Lesbians and Gay Men Have to Their Racial and Religious Communities.”
I’m starting off with some urban sociology because I needed to re-read the “Killer King” piece for a media effects paper I’ve been writing.
Hunt and RamÓn (2010) describe how the Los Angeles Times succeeded in drawing on the stereotypes of pathology surrounding south central Los Angeles and its black and Latino residents to run one sensationalistic story after another condemning King Hospital as poorly managed, corrupt, and itself pathological. The result was the decision to close down one of the few accessible critical care facilities in that part of the region in 2007, leaving local residents much farther from emergency and critical care services than when King operated. After a long political battle, Los Angeles County plans to reopen King, but not until 2015 at the earliest. What effects media has on policy can go any number of ways. Narratives of decay and decline might, on the one hand, increase public awareness of the need to invest. But, as the authors of this piece argue, the narratives of hopelessness about south central and its residents (poverty, crime, ill-health, education, etc) and the narrative of the hopelessly mismanaged King Hospital combined to create a political consensus among voters and elites that reform and reinvestment were hopeless as well.
Moore’s entry provides insights into the ways in which LGBT men and women navigate their different socio-spatial networks in Los Angeles, sorting through the need to code switch both vis-a-vis white culture and religious beliefs about homosexuals within their home communities. Being black and gay in LA is not easy, particularly if one is from the region. The places that have developed as gay and lesbian enclaves—places intended to be safe for LGBT relationships–allow men and women of color from outside the region to move into those enclaves with less stigma or outing than for those who grew up in LA where those neighborhoods are known, and often reviled, within their local communities. These complex relationships get played out against the geography of Los Angeles which distances the two sources of community from each other.
Go out and read some urban and planning women!