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Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race, and Spatial Entitlement in Los Angeles

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In Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity, Gaye Theresa Johnson examines interracial anti-racist alliances, divisions among aggrieved minority communities, and the cultural expressions and spatial politics that emerge from the mutual struggles of Blacks and Chicanos in Los Angeles from the 1940s to the present. Johnson argues that struggles waged in response to instituti In Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity, Gaye Theresa Johnson examines interracial anti-racist alliances, divisions among aggrieved minority communities, and the cultural expressions and spatial politics that emerge from the mutual struggles of Blacks and Chicanos in Los Angeles from the 1940s to the present. Johnson argues that struggles waged in response to institutional and social repression have created both moments and movements in which Blacks and Chicanos have unmasked power imbalances, sought recognition, and forged solidarities by embracing the strategies, cultures, and politics of each others' experiences. At the center of this study is the theory of spatial entitlement: the spatial strategies and vernaculars utilized by working class youth to resist the demarcations of race and class that emerged in the postwar era. In this important new book, Johnson reveals how racial alliances and antagonisms between Blacks and Chicanos in L.A. had spatial as well as racial dimensions.


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In Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity, Gaye Theresa Johnson examines interracial anti-racist alliances, divisions among aggrieved minority communities, and the cultural expressions and spatial politics that emerge from the mutual struggles of Blacks and Chicanos in Los Angeles from the 1940s to the present. Johnson argues that struggles waged in response to instituti In Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity, Gaye Theresa Johnson examines interracial anti-racist alliances, divisions among aggrieved minority communities, and the cultural expressions and spatial politics that emerge from the mutual struggles of Blacks and Chicanos in Los Angeles from the 1940s to the present. Johnson argues that struggles waged in response to institutional and social repression have created both moments and movements in which Blacks and Chicanos have unmasked power imbalances, sought recognition, and forged solidarities by embracing the strategies, cultures, and politics of each others' experiences. At the center of this study is the theory of spatial entitlement: the spatial strategies and vernaculars utilized by working class youth to resist the demarcations of race and class that emerged in the postwar era. In this important new book, Johnson reveals how racial alliances and antagonisms between Blacks and Chicanos in L.A. had spatial as well as racial dimensions.

42 review for Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race, and Spatial Entitlement in Los Angeles

  1. 4 out of 5

    David Leonard

    Mainstream American racial discourse loves conflict between marginalized groups. Turning every instance into a spectacle, these narratives erase the tensions and material conflicts, often times pathologizing communities for an inability to get along with one another. From the media to Hollywood, from the halls of Washington to the ivory towers, discourses around interracial conflict deny/erase/ignore the context of racism, letting power, governing ideologies, and dominant institutions off the ho Mainstream American racial discourse loves conflict between marginalized groups. Turning every instance into a spectacle, these narratives erase the tensions and material conflicts, often times pathologizing communities for an inability to get along with one another. From the media to Hollywood, from the halls of Washington to the ivory towers, discourses around interracial conflict deny/erase/ignore the context of racism, letting power, governing ideologies, and dominant institutions off the hook. We have seen this with media discourses around Blacks and Latinos, Blacks and Jews, and Blacks and Asians. Of course, the centering of blackness is instructive given the centrality of narratives of pathology and efforts to imagine blackness as a destructive and undesirable pollutant. Not surprisingly there is little room to discuss resistance, to document coalitions and shared struggles against white supremacy, and the articulation of “freedom dreams” (Kelley 2003). Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson, with Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race, and Spatial Entitlement in Los Angeles (UC Press), steps into this narrative vacuum. Challenging the erasure of resistance efforts that sought to claim foreclosed space, Dr. Johnson offers an important discussion of a history that remains “illegible” (Neal 2013) given the hegemony of narratives of conflict, hostility, and pathology. Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity “examines interracial anti-racist alliances, divisions among aggrieved minority communities, and the cultural expressions and spatial politics that emerge from the mutual struggles of Blacks and Chicanos in Los Angeles from the 1940s to the present.” Challenging “institutional and social repression” that has resulted in “both moments and movements” “Blacks and Chicanos have unmasked power imbalances, sought recognition, and forged solidarities by embracing the strategies, cultures, and politics of each others’ experiences.” This work is less invested in the formation of organizations or specifics mobilizations but instead the everyday resistance, the “hidden transcripts” (Scott) and “informal infrapolitics” (Kelley). The focus here leads readers to see the genealogy of resistance, to see the many ways that spatial foreclosure and the denied rights of citizenship were consistently inspired opposition that moved across racialized lines. Building on a myriad of works that have documented the history of race within Los Angeles, and race relations in the city of Angels, Dr. Johnson brings an important focus on space, the sonic, and micro-politics. From Zoot Suits to community newspapers, from car culture to graffiti, from punk music to hip-hop, Black and Latino youth have carved out spaces of resistance, challenging not only dominant representations and everyday violence but the refusal to recognize their “collective entitlement to national membership” and citizenship. Dr. Johnson chronicles a history of Blacks and Latinos in postwar Los Angeles as one defined by immobility – segregation, job dislocation, economic stagnation, mass incarceration, and confinement. It is equally a history of space, evidence by the destruction of public transportation, the construction of freeways at the expense of communities of color, the privileging of the needs of capitalism ahead of the needs of people (Chavez Ravine), the movement of manufacturing plants from urban to suburban (& into transnational spaces) and the role of the police/criminal justice as the principal arbiter of ownership and access to space. The discussion of mobility, place and space are so powerful within this book, as Dr. Johnson highlights the interconnections between space, mobility, power, and citizenship. Yet, Dr. Johnson is less invested in chronicling sixty years of white supremacist violence in Los Angeles, instead offering readers insight into how Blacks and Latino challenged these spatial arrangements through the creation of “spatial strategies and vernaculars” used “to resist the demarcations of race and class that emerged in the postwar era.” Continue reading review at http://drdavidjleonard.com/2014/03/11...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    979.494 J671 2013

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