On riots and race. What has changed, and what’s still bubbling under the surface, 20 years after the riots in South Central Los Angeles:
“The L.A. Riots (or uprising, civil unrest, or rebellion, depending) are often considered the first ‘multiethnic’ riots. As a pivot point of race and urban relations, they constitute a resonant moment for immigrant America. Korean Americans living on the West Coast at the time remember the first day, 4-29, or sa-i-gu, with time-freezing clarity.
“For many of us, the riots were a schooling in color and class. Our household, run by two working-class parents, was consumed by frantic arguments and phone calls about race, cities, and the distribution of wealth. There was talk of structural, large-scale discrimination, not merely individual prejudice or circumstance, which shaped the course of my life. Last summer, approaching the riots’ twentieth anniversary, I sought out the lessons of 1992. I was drawn in particular to the riots’ crucible in South Central, since refashioned as ‘South L.A.,’ though its infamy and boundaries–set by highways and thoroughfares–remain unchanged.”