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New Book from UCR Professor Takes Look at Race Relations

New Book from UCR Professor Takes Look at Race Relations

(August 2, 1999)

The 1992 Los Angeles riot is sometimes painted as an isolated violent reaction in the African-American community to the not guilty verdict issued in the trial of the officers videotaped beating Rodney King.

But a new book co-authored by UCR Professor Edward Chang, "Ethnic Peace in the American City: Building Community in Los Angeles and Beyond," [ISBN 0-8147-1584-2] takes a broader and more nuanced look- not at the riot itself - but at the healing that followed.

Co-authored by Chang, an associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, Riverside, and Jeannette Diaz-Veizades, a faculty member at the Saybrook Graduate School, the book points out that Latinos, Asian Americans, whites and African Americans were involved as both victim and assailants in the riot. For instance, nearly half of the businesses destroyed were Korean American owned. Nearly half of the people arrested were Latino.

In this new book, published this month by New York University Press, the city of Los Angeles emerges as an example of the importance of inter-ethnic relations in the United States, and a reminder that problems that start because of conflicts between races and cultures can only be ended by solutions that incorporate everyone.

The authors present local and international examples of people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds building coalitions, resolving disputes and organizing communities, moving beyond the stereotypes that focus only on negative interactions between minority groups.

The book counters the white/black or bi-racial universe of American race relations, and explores the much more colorful reality, offering practical means by which ethnically fragmented neighbors can work together and address common concerns. It also examines the role of the media in intensifying racial and ethnic conflicts, or potentially, in easing them.

"We attempt to answer the question of, 'where do we go from here?'" said Chang. "We go beyond understanding the root causes of riots to look at how to build multiracial and multicultural coalitions in America."

Gary Phillips, former executive director of the MultiCultural Collaborative, agreed to recommend the book because he thought it had potential to ease some of the nation's racial tension.

"The road to building true and lasting multi-racial coalitions is no easy task. It will not come about simply because we wish it to happen," Phillips said. "We need a plan. Chang and Diaz-Veizades provide part of the blueprint for constructing such a plan through clear analysis and accessible writing. More than just academic ruminations, this book stems from the grassroots, and provides an urgent message for all of us."

Chang is an associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, Riverside, and former director of the Center for Asian Pacific America. Jeannette Diaz-Veizades is an executive faculty member at the Saybrook Graduate School, where she teaches research methods as well as courses in psychology and in community, social and institutional change.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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