Tune in: New Playlist for The Tide Was Always High and Peeks Inside the Book

Music and musicians from Latin America are inextricable from the development of Los Angeles as a modern musical city. This volume listens for the musical urbanism of Los Angeles through the ear of Latin America. It makes the argument that the musical life of this dispersed and dynamic metropolis is shaped by immigrant musicians and migrating, cross-border musical cultures that not only have determined LA’s “harmonies of scenery,” but have been active participants in the making of the city’s modern aesthetics and modern industries.—Josh Kun, in his introduction to The Tide Was Always High

Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA continues throughout Los Angeles, and for the unprecedented Getty-led collaboration, MacArthur Fellow and cultural historian Josh Kun curated a multi-part “musical exhibition” that explore the musical networks between Los Angeles and various Latin American communities and cultures. Tune in to his latest Musical Intervention (details at the bottom of the page), plus a new curated playlist.

To deepen the experience of these events, The Tide Was Always High: The Music of Latin America in Los Angeles accompanies the series with essays, interviews, and analysis from leading academics, artists, journalists on the iconic Latin American musicians who shaped Los Angeles—and America: Carmen Miranda, Esquivel, Yma Sumac, Agustín Lara, Pérez Prado, Cannonball Adderley, Eva Quintanar, Paulinho da Costa, Lalo Schifrin, Earth, Wind & Fire, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Ninón Sevilla, João Donato, Eddie Cano, Abraham Laboriel Sr, Elisabeth Waldo, David Axelrod, María Conesa, Arsenio Rodríguez, Justo Almario, Tito Rodríguez, Flora Purim, Banda Nueva Dinastía de Zoochila, Roy Ayers, Alex Acuña, Airto Moreira, Sergio Mendes, Luis Conte.

From Hollywood film sets to recording studios, from vaudeville theaters to Sunset Strip nightclubs, the book explores the deep connections between Los Angeles and Latin America, complete with lush imagery and historical photos. Take a peek inside at some of the vibrant vintage album covers:

From the emergence of Afro-Cuban jazz to the influence of Brazilian samba and bossa nova…
… to the cha cha cha rhythms of Cuban cha cha cha, Hollywood cha cha cha, rock and roll cha cha cha, and R&B cha cha cha…
…to the Hollywood scores arranged by the most influential, post-war, Latin American composer to the King of the Mambo…
… and the King of Space Age Pop…
…to ethnomusicology and everyone and sound in between, “The Tide Was Always High” shows how the music of Latin America has impacted Los Angeles and American culture for decades.

Musical Interventions
All events listed at tidewasalwayshigh.com

November 4, 2017: Guillermo Galindo’s Human Nature: Sonic Botany—The Huntington, Rose Hills Garden Court

Experimental composer, sonic architect, and performance artist Guillermo Galindo presents a work inspired by “Visual Voyages.”  Free; no reservations required.

UC Press is thrilled to publish three books in conjunction with PST: LA/LA. Learn more here.


Tune in: The Tide Was Always High Concert Series

Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is in full swing in Los Angeles, and for the unprecedented program, editor Josh Kun has turned a year of academic research into a phenomenal lineup of concerts and the book The Tide Was Always High: The Music of Latin America in Los Angeles.

Led by the Getty, PST: LA/LA is an ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles and a joint effort of more than 70 cultural institutions across Southern California. Each month, Kun curates a monthly playlist related to his research, so tune in below and read along with The Tide Was Always High. Save 30% today with code 17M6662.

Here’s what’s happening this month:

Musical Interventions 

Event details at tidewasalwayshigh.com

October 7, 2017: Voice of the Xtabay: A Tribute to Yma Sumac—at Hammer Museum

A genre-bending roster of Los Angeles Latinx vocalists and musicians reimagine the songs of multi-octave Peruvian singer and Capitol Records recording star Yma Sumac. Inspired by the Hammer exhibition Radical Women: Latin American Art 1960-1985, the evening features Empress Of, Nite Jewel, Maria Elena Altany, Ceci Bastida, Dorian Wood, Carmina Escobar, and Francisca Valenzuela. Produced in partnership with the Hammer Museum.

October 18, 2017: Playing With Fires: Chicano Batman Plays Carlos Almaraz—at LACMA

Celebrated Los Angeles band Chicano Batman will perform new music inspired by LACMA’s exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Performance will take place in the exhibition gallery. Produced in partnership with LACMA.

October 26, 2017: Tonight at the Palace!: A Variedades Tribute—at The Downtown Palace Theatre

Inspired by classic Spanish-language variety shows held at downtown movie palaces such as the Million Dollar and the Palace, this imaginative evening features live music, dance, comedy and a screening of restored Spanish language Laurel and Hardy films. Hosted by Mexico City performer and writer Amandititita, the evening includes the Versa-Style Dance Company and music from La Familia Gonzalez de Los Angeles, and an all-star jam session with Abraham Laboriel, Paulinho Da Costa, Alex Acuña, and Justo Almario. Produced in partnership with USC’s Visions & Voices.

UC Press is thrilled to be publishing three books in conjunction with PST: LA/LA. Learn more here.

#PSTLALA // #TheTideWasAlwaysHigh


3 Books That Go Beyond Borders for Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA

Kicking off this month throughout Southern California, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. Led by the Getty, PST: LA/LA is a joint effort from more than 60 cultural institutions across the region, and UC Press is thrilled to be publishing three books in conjunction with this unprecedented collaboration. 

Learn more about each title and find out about related events below. #PSTLALA

The Tide Was Always High: The Music of Latin America in  Los Angeles 
Edited by Josh Kun

The Tide Was Always High gathers together essays, interviews, and analysis from leading academics, artists, journalists, and iconic Latin American musicians to explore the vibrant connections between Los Angeles and Latin America. From Hollywood film sets to recording studios, from vaudeville theaters to Sunset Strip nightclubs, and from Carmen Miranda to Pérez Prado and Juan García Esquivel, Latin American musicians and music have helped shape Los Angeles culture since the birth of the city.

Related events: Musical Interventions, a series of six live musical events presented by Josh Kun at multiple PST: LA/LA institutions. Details and more at tidewasalwayshigh.com. September 23 – December 2, 2017

And tune in for monthly playlists curated by editor Josh Kun.

Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Experimental Cinema in Latin America
Edited by Jesse Lerner & Luciano Piazza

Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo is the first comprehensive, United States–based film program and catalogue to treat the full breadth of Latin America’s vibrant experimental film production. The fully bilingual catalogue features major scholars and artists working across nationalities, mediums, and time periods. Lerner and Piazza assemble a mix of original content authored by key curators, scholars, and archivists from Latin America: eighteen essays and articles translated for the first time pertaining to the history of Latin American experimental film, historical image-documents that are fundamental to the history of experimental film in Latin America, and program notes from the exhibition’s programs.

Related events: In partnership with the Los Angeles Filmforum, a series of screenings will take place between September 2017 and January 2018. The first weekend of screenings will take place September 22–24 at REDCAT. See a complete calendar of events at www.ismismism.org.

California Mexicana
Missions to Murals, 1820–1930
Edited by Katherine Manthorne

California Mexicana focuses for the first time on the range and vitality of artistic traditions growing out of the unique amalgam of Mexican and American culture that evolved in Southern California from 1820 through 1930. A study of these early regional manifestations provides the essential matrix out of which emerge later art and cultural issues. Featuring painters, printmakers, photographers, and mapmakers from both sides of the border, this collection demonstrates how they made the Mexican presence visible in their art. This beautifully illustrated catalogue addresses two key areas of inquiry: how Mexico became California, and how the visual arts reflected the shifting identity that grew out of that transformation.

Related exhibition: California Mexicana: Missions to Murals, 1820–1930 October 15, 2017 – January 14, 2018 at the Laguna Art Museum

 


Tune in: The Tide Was Always High Concert Series from September 23–December 2

“What does the relationship between Los Angeles and Latin America sound like?”

2016 MacArthur Fellow Josh Kun’s latest edited collection The Tide Was Always High gathers together essays, interviews, and analysis on the iconic Latin American musicians who helped shape L.A. culture—from Hollywood film sets to recording studios, vaudeville theaters to the Sunset Strip, and Carmen Miranda to Juan García Esquivel.

To celebrate these vibrant connections, Kun will debut “Musical Interventions,” a multi-part concert series at venues throughout L.A. in conjunction with Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA—the Getty’s effort to unite arts institutions across Southern California. To accompany the book and series, Kun has curated a monthly playlist of tunes related to his research, so listen up and read along with The Tide Was Always High. Order your copy now and save 30% with code 17M6662.

Musical Interventions 

Event details at tidewasalwayshigh.com


September 23, 2017: SONORAMA! Latin America in Hollywood—at The Getty Center

This outdoor dance concert will feature an electronic big band led by Mexico City’s Mexican Institute of Sound, with Sergio Mendoza (Orkestra Mendoza) and a crew of top local musicians helmed by percussionist Alberto López. They will interpret music written in, and for, Hollywood by the likes of Juan García Esquivel, Lalo Schifrin, Johnny Richards, Ary Barroso, and Maria Grever. Produced in partnership with the Getty.

October 7, 2017: Voice of the Xtabay: A Tribute to Yma Sumac—at Hammer Museum

A genre-bending roster of Los Angeles Latinx vocalists and musicians reimagine the songs of multi-octave Peruvian singer and Capitol Records recording star Yma Sumac. Inspired by the Hammer exhibition Radical Women: Latin American Art 1960-1985, the evening features Empress Of, Nite Jewel, Maria Elena Altany, Ceci Bastida, Dorian Wood, Carmina Escobar, and Francisca Valenzuela. Produced in partnership with the Hammer Museum.

October 18, 2017: Playing With Fires: Chicano Batman Plays Carlos Almaraz—at LACMA

Celebrated Los Angeles band Chicano Batman will perform new music inspired by LACMA’s exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Performance will take place in the exhibition gallery. Produced in partnership with LACMA.

October 26, 2017: Tonight at the Palace!: A Variedades Tribute—at The Downtown Palace Theatre

Inspired by classic Spanish-language variety shows held at downtown movie palaces such as the Million Dollar and the Palace, this imaginative evening features live music, dance, comedy and a screening of restored Spanish language Laurel and Hardy films. Hosted by Mexico City performer and writer Amandititita, the evening includes the Versa-Style Dance Company and music from La Familia Gonzalez de Los Angeles, and an all-star jam session with Abraham Laboriel, Paulinho Da Costa, Alex Acuña, and Justo Almario. Produced in partnership with USC’s Visions & Voices.

November 4, 2017: Guillermo Galindo’s Human Nature: A Cyber-Totemic Sonic Codex—at The Huntington 

The Huntington’s exhibition “Visual Voyages” will be complemented by an experimental sound installation and a one night only live performance, both by composer, musician, and artist Guillermo Galindo. Produced in partnership with The Huntington.

December 2, 2017: That Bad Donato: The L.A. Brazil Connection—at Royce Hall, UCLA

This special evening revisits the 1970 album by legendary Brazilian pianist, producer and arranger João Donato, A Bad Donato (recorded in L.A.), and other moments of “Brazil-in-L.A”. musical creativity. Inspired by the Fowler Museum at UCLA exhibition Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis, the concert features performances by João Donato backed by Bixiga 70, and Bahia-raised Mateus Aleluia with L.A.-based Brazilian singer Thalma de Freitas. Produced in partnership with Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA.

Kicking off this month throughout Southern California and running through January 2018 is Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, an ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles. Led by the Getty, PST: LA/LA is a joint effort of more than 70 cultural institutions, and UC Press is thrilled to be publishing three books in conjunction with this unprecedented collaboration. Learn more.

#PSTLALA // #TheTideWasAlwaysHigh


Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Opening at the REDCAT, September 22-24

In partnership with the Los Angeles Filmforum and as part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA series, we are pleased to announce the launch of Ism Ism Ism: Experimental Film in Latin America (Ismo Ismo Ismo: Cine Experimental en América Latina), a multi-part screening series featuring key works of experimental, time-based media made in Latin America and by Latin American artists. The exhibition will take place as a series of sixteen curated screenings, hosted in a combination of screening venues, museums, galleries and community spaces located throughout Southern California. Screenings will take place from September 2017 until January 2018.

The opening weekend, hosted by REDCAT, will run from Friday, September 22 to Sunday, September 24th.

Be sure to check out UC Press’ accompanying bilingual catalogue, Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Experimental Cinema in Latin America.

Revisiting classic titles and introducing new works by key figures and emerging artists, Ism, Ism, Ism takes viewers on a journey through a wealth of materials culled from forgotten corners of Latin American film archives. REDCAT’s opening weekend includes a panel with curators and scholars and six film programs: Latin American surrealist shorts, films made in Southern California by Latinas and Latin American women, a solo presentation by veteran Chicano filmmaker Willie Varela, “camera-less” films by artists from several countries, documents of diverse countercultural movements, and revelatory shorts regarding revolutionary icon Che Guevara.

Contact sheet from La Langosta Azúl (1954). Álvaro Cepeda Samudio, Enrique Grau Araújo, Luis Vicens, and Gabriel García Márquez.

Kicking off in September 2017 and running through January 2018 throughout Southern California, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. Led by the Getty, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is a joint effort from more than 60 cultural institutions across the region, and UC Press is thrilled to be publishing three books in conjunction with this unprecedented collaboration.

Learn more about UC Press’ Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA titles here.


Our Most Precious Resource: A National Water Quality Month Reading List

August is National Water Quality Month, a time to reflect on what we are doing to both prevent water pollution and preserve water resources around the country. Check out the list below to learn more about water history, climate change, and the future of water in the western US.

The Atlas of Water: Mapping the World’s Most Critical Resource by Maggie Black

Using vivid graphics, maps, and charts, The Atlas of Water explores the complex human interaction with water around the world. This vibrant atlas addresses all the pressing issues concerning water, from water shortages and excessive demand, to dams, pollution, and privatization, all considered in terms of the growing threat of an increasingly unpredictable climate. It also outlines critical tools for managing water, providing safe access to water, and preserving the future of the world’s water supply.

 

Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner

In this incisive examination of lead poisoning during the past half century, Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner focus on one of the most contentious and bitter battles in the history of public health. Lead Wars details how the nature of the epidemic has changed and highlights the dilemmas public health agencies face today in terms of prevention strategies and chronic illness linked to low levels of toxic exposure. Including content about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, Lead Wars chronicles the obstacles faced by public health workers in the conservative, pro-business, anti-regulatory climate that took off in the Reagan years and that stymied efforts to eliminate lead from the environments and the bodies of American children.

 

Water and Los Angeles: A Tale of Three Rivers, 1900-1941 by William Deverell and Tom Sitton

Los Angeles rose to significance in the first half of the twentieth century by way of its complex relationship to three rivers: the Los Angeles, the Owens, and the Colorado. The remarkable urban and suburban trajectory of southern California since then cannot be fully understood without reference to the ways in which each of these three river systems came to be connected to the future of the metropolitan region.

A free ebook version of this title is available through Luminos, University of California Press’s Open Access publishing program for monographs.

 

Blood and Water: The Indus River Basin in Modern History by David Gilmartin

The Indus basin was once an arid pastoral watershed, but by the second half of the twentieth century, it had become one of the world’s most heavily irrigated and populated river basins. Launched under British colonial rule in the nineteenth century, this irrigation project spurred political, social, and environmental transformations that continued after the 1947 creation of the new states of India and Pakistan. In this first large-scale environmental history of the region, David Gilmartin focuses on the changes that occurred in the basin as a result of the implementation of the world’s largest modern integrated irrigation system.

 

Dead Pool: Lake Powell, Global Warming, and the Future of Water in the West by James Lawrence Powell

Where will the water come from to sustain the great desert cities of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix? In a provocative exploration of the past, present, and future of water in the West, James Lawrence Powell begins at Lake Powell, the vast reservoir that has become an emblem of this story. Writing for a wide audience, Powell shows us exactly why an urgent threat during the first half of the twenty-first century will come not from the rising of the seas but from the falling of the reservoirs.

 


A Queer History Reading List

#PrideMonth is upon us, and while we are out celebrating we must not forget the past and what has brought us to this important moment in queer history. Jump into the past, ranging from gay L.A. to the AIDS years in New York City, with these selected titles.

Lavender and Red: Liberation and Solidarity in the Gay and Lesbian Left by Emily K. Hobson

LGBT activism is often imagined as a self-contained struggle, inspired by but set apart from other social movements. Lavender and Red recounts a far different story: a history of queer radicals who understood their sexual liberation as intertwined with solidarity against imperialism, war, and racism. Bringing together archival research, oral histories, and vibrant images, Emily K. Hobson rediscovers the radical queer past for a generation of activists today.

 

Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians by Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons

The exhortation to “Go West!” has always sparked the American imagination. But for gays, lesbians, and transgendered people, the City of Angels provided a special home and gave rise to one of the most influential gay cultures in the world. Drawing on rare archives and photographs as well as more than three hundred interviews, Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons chart L.A.’s unique gay history, from the first missionary encounters with Native American cross-gendered “two spirits” to cross-dressing frontier women in search of their fortunes; from the bohemian freedom of early Hollywood to the explosion of gay life during World War II to the underground radicalism set off by the 1950s blacklist; and from the 1960s gay liberation movement to the creation of gay marketing in the 1990s.

 

The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination by Sarah Schulman

In this gripping memoir of the AIDS years (1981–1996), Sarah Schulman recalls how much of the rebellious queer culture, cheap rents, and a vibrant downtown arts movement vanished almost overnight to be replaced by gay conservative spokespeople and mainstream consumerism. Schulman takes us back to her Lower East Side and brings it to life, filling these pages with vivid memories of her avant-garde queer friends and dramatically recreating the early years of the AIDS crisis as experienced by a political insider.

 

An Archive of Hope: Harvey Milk’s Speeches and Writings edited by Jason Edward Black and Charles E. Morris

Harvey Milk was one of the first openly and politically gay public officials in the United States, and his remarkable activism put him at the very heart of a pivotal civil rights movement reshaping America in the 1970s. An Archive of Hope is Milk in his own words, bringing together in one volume a substantial collection of his speeches, columns, editorials, political campaign materials, open letters, and press releases, culled from public archives, newspapers, and personal collections.

 

Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965 by Nan Alamilla Boyd

Wide-Open Town traces the history of gay men and lesbians in San Francisco from the turn of the century, when queer bars emerged in San Francisco’s tourist districts, to 1965, when a raid on a drag ball changed the course of queer history. Bringing to life the striking personalities and vibrant milieu that fueled this era, Nan Alamilla Boyd examines the culture that developed around the bar scene and homophile activism.


Making Los Angeles Home: The Integration of Mexican Immigrants in the United States

by Luis Escala, author of Making Los Angeles Home: The Integration of Mexican Immigrants in the United States with Rafael Alarcon and Olga Odgers

This guest post is published during the American Sociological Association conference in Seattle. Check back every week for new posts through the end of the conference on August 23rd.

In recent times, the topic of migration has had a key role within media coverage of the US elections, particularly the case of Mexicans in the US. In this media frenzy, the anti-immigrant narrative has gained considerable significance, emphasizing the allegedly undocumented status of all this population, as well as their never-ending mobile character. While this narrative has gained considerable support among the public, much less attention has been paid to the opinions of sociologists and other scholars who have emphasized not only the contributions of Mexican immigrants to American economy and society, but also the sometimes subtle, sometimes invisible efforts carried out by them to integrate into this nation. This book aims to document the experience of many of these immigrants in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, a key destination point for millions of immigrants from all over the world, as well as to examine and explain the different ways in which this integration takes place.

For the authors, this experience involved multiple complexities that were beyond the traditional approaches on immigrant integration at hand, which led them to analytically split this concept into four different dimensions (economic, social, political, and cultural integrations), aiming to highlight the different traits and paces they involved among Mexicans in the LA region. By the same token, given that immigrant integration involves a process, we considered in our study not one but three different cohorts of Mexican immigrants, from three different regions of origin, whose arrival in LA took place at different times, thus facing different circumstances throughout the Angeleno history during the second half of the twentieth century. In addition, as Mexican scholars who work and live at the Mexican city of Tijuana, in between the American and Mexican Californias, we were aware of the multiple ties these migrants kept with their region and nation of origin, an aspect that definitely shaped their integration experiences.

But why is this important? While different politicians, anchormen, and even scholars have targeted these ties, together with their low socio-economic status, poor educational attainment, and extended undocumented status of Mexican immigrants to portray them as eternal aliens, living self-contained lives that run parallel to American mainstream society, the fact is that becoming Americans have gained considerable centrality for them. Gone were the times when circular migration between Mexican hometowns and a vast array of Californian cities was dominant, and those who arrived before or during 1986 IRCA legalized their status, and the settlement process of these immigrants took place in a vast scale. And even for those Mexicans who arrived later to the US, their aspirations and life projects were oriented towards settling in their new places of destination and integrate into their new societies. The fact was that by the last couple of decades of the twentieth century, the context of Mexican migration to the US had considerably changed, due in part to new immigration policies in the US and their severe enforcement but also to the significant rise of crime and violence in Mexico.

Throughout our interviews, Mexican immigrants provided compelling stories on the ways in which they and their families aim to integrate to the different spheres of their lives in Los Angeles. Working long hours in increasingly precarious jobs, these men and women portray not only the vast array of predicaments they cope with and their strategies to deal with the inherent challenges of living in a hugely extended metropolis, but also their aim of settling down and their quest to become one more in American society. Nevertheless, this aim involves a process that is necessary to examine in detail, for all the complexities it entails: on the one hand, they procure the preservation of their traditional culture; but, on the other, their life courses as immigrants in a new society have led them to a significant redefinition of their social and cultural boundaries.

In this sense, our book comes in handy to an array of audiences in an era in which Nativisms have amplified a particular image of Mexican migrants in the US, while obscuring or even neglecting the relevance of their aspirations to integrate into American society. Both activists and interested readers in the subject, as well as faculty and students in different fields of social sciences will find expert analysis and opinions on the socio-economic and demographic data on the immigrant population of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Region, but most of all they will find persuasive arguments through the voices of the Mexican men and women interviewed for the writing of this book.


Rafael Alarcón has a PhD in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley and is a professor and researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.

Luis Escala has a PhD in sociology from UCLA and is a professor and researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.

Olga Odgers has a PhD in sociology from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales-Paris and is a professor and researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.


Freedom Struggles and the Rise of the Neoliberal State

In the last 40 years millions of jobs in the United states have been lost due to capital flight and deindustrialization. Unemployment rates have skyrocketed for all workers, but especially Black workers. Structural joblessness, poverty, and homelessness have become permanent features of the political economy. Meanwhile, prison populations have exploded. In Incarcerating the Crisis Jordan T. Camp traces the rise of the neoliberal carceral state through a series of historical moments in US history—the Watts insurrection in 1965, the Detroit rebellion in 1967, the Attica uprising in 1971, and the Los Angeles revolt in 1992, and events in post-Katrina New Orleans in 2005.

The carceral population grew from two hundred thousand people in the late 1960s to more than 2.4 million people in the 2000s. Currently, one in thirty-five, or 6.9 million adults in the United States, are in jail or prison, or on parole or probation. Increased spending on incarceration has occurred alongside the reduction of expenditures for public education, transportation, health care, and public-sector employment. Prison expansion has coincided with a shift in the racial composition of prisoners from majority white to almost 70 percent people of color. The unemployed, underemployed, and never-employed Black and Latino poor have been incarcerated at disproportionate rates. With the highest rate of incarceration on the planet, the United States currently incarcerates Black people at higher rates than South Africa did before the end of apartheid. All of these numbers bespeak a collision of race, class, and carceral state power without historical precedent, but certainly not without historical explanation.


Jordan T. Camp is Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

 


What Citizenship Means to Mexican American Women in Los Angeles

Immigration has been a key issue in the 2016 presidential elections. In Making Los Angeles Home: The Integration of Mexican Immigrants in the United States  authors Rafael Alarcon, Luis Escala, and Olga Odgers shed light on the different facets (economic, social, cultural, political) of an immigrant’s integration process.

Alarcon.MakingLosAngelesHome

Our Zacatecan interviewees who arrived in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s were mostly undocumented. Although they entered a solid regional economy supported by a manufacturing base that offered plentiful permanent, well-paid, unionized jobs, the interviewees’ first jobs tended to be in worse-paid occupations with poor working conditions. …

Among women finding jobs in canneries processing fruits and other foodstuffs, Marcia worked in a fish-canning plant for more than three decades. But it was not easy for her to get this job in 1966: ‘I went every day with my husband, at four in the morning, to a room where everyone who wanted to work had to sit and wait . . . until we got work, and then we stayed put where we got it . . . we spent thirty-six years working there. My husband died and I kept on working to keep going. . . . When I left, in 2001, I was making $6.75 an hour. We never got ahead in there.’ 

Marcia is a US citizen, never was undocumented, and is now collecting retirement income.

As the Zacatecan interviewees began to acquire work experience, learn English, make employer contacts, and regularize their immigration status, it was found that those who became naturalized citizens or legal permanent residents were achieving relative occupational mobility at a higher percentage.

Among the business owners, Rafaela stands out. She arrived in Los Angeles in 1988, is a naturalized citizen, and is married with children born in the United States. In Zacatecas she was a cosmetologist and, although she didn’t want to keep working in this field, she needed to do so and later became the owner of a beauty salon: “I never really liked cosmetology. I did it because my mother told me I had to learn a trade. In Los Angeles, I wanted to work as something else, but talking with other women in laundromats and with my neighbors, they told me they were making $3.75 an hour. I said, I’m not working for $3.75, no way . . . some of them worked in restaurants, others in factories, one woman packed candles, another one sewed in a clothing factory where they paid her five cents per piece . . . my husband made $3.75 an hour too, which was the minimum wage in those days.

Rafaela tells how she found her first job: “I saw a beauty parlor with a sign that said ‘se habla español,’ so I went in and told the owner—a Salvadoran, twenty-one years old—I was a cosmetologist in Mexico and I wanted to work. ‘I’ve got five years’ experience,’ I said.” During the interview the owner asked Rafaela to cut the hair of three young men from Jalisco, and her work was good enough to get her hired right away. “That was Thursday, and by Sunday I had $70 in tips and $430 in pay because I got 60 percent of what I took in.” In 2008, twenty years after her arrival in Los Angeles, she owned a salon and had four employees.

Learn more about how other Mexican American immigrant women have made Los Angeles their home in Making Los Angeles Home: The Integration of Mexican Immigrants in the United States available now.