Imagining Los Angeles as a Multicultural City

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

The view on the street is of a rapidly evolving city, that the New York Times recently called Los Angeles, “a microcosm of the world”, where its residents speak more than 200 languages and live next to one another in relative peace, marry across racial groups and eat each other’s foods regularly. But this diversity and coexistence seems to have outpaced its government’s current capacity to figure out how to wield and manage power, as shown by the recent scandal of the recordings.

In the explosive audio, Latino leaders depicted their natural desire for representation as a zero-sum game and racist views were expressed about several different ethnic groups, including their own. The Ethnic Media Service organized an online discussion on October 21 to discuss how the city of Los Angeles can overcome the current impasse through the diverse voices of African Americans, Latinos and Oaxaca Indigenous.

Richard Rodriguez, Journalist and Writer, Author of “Brown: The Last Discovery of America” and “Hunger of Memory, the Education of Richard Rodriguez” said the scandal illustrates how people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds live together in Los Angeles without a true understanding of each other. Rodriguez said that Culture is broader than ethnicity, and it is necessary to understand diverse cultures.

Arcenio López, Executive Director, MICOP, Mixteco Indígena Community Organizing Project expressed his opinion on the situation of indigenous Mexicans in California. He believes that people need to know more about the history of immigrants and who was the first to come to Los Angeles.

Jasmyne Cannick, Advocate, Writer and Political Strategist said in a multicultural society like Los Angeles, there are very complex chains of discrimination, and people first need to understand the relationship between these different ethnic groups.

Finally, the four also shared their views on “how to build Los Angeles into a truly multicultural city”. Cannick said that although people’s hearts cannot be easily changed, they can change the system, such as the planning of constituencies, such as education and so on. Rodriguez encouraged young people to actively speak up, and people from different ethnicities and cultures should be more courageous to speak up for their identities. Kaplan emphasized that politicians cannot be relied on, and everyone has to have a voice in their own way.