Like so many "news events," the Rodney King incidents the beating, the trial and the uprising that followed have all but disappeared from public dialogue. "Reading Rodney King/Reading Urban Uprising" keeps this public debate alive by exploring the connections between the incidents and the ordinary workings of cultural, political, and economic power in contemporary America. Its recurrent theme is the continuing though complicated significance of race in American society.
The Rodney King incidents raised a number of questions regarding the relationships between poverty, racial ideology, economic competition, and the exercise of political power. What is the relationship between the beating of Rodney King and the workings of racism in America? How was it possible for defense attorneys to convince a jury that the videotape it saw did not depict an excessive or unjustified use of violence? In the burning of Koreatown, what role did racial stereotypes of African Americans and Korean Americans play, and what role did various economic factors play? What is the significance of the fact that the L.A. police department, when responding to the uprising, sent its officers to Westwood but not Koreatown? And how, finally, are we to understand the fact that not all of Los Angeles' various Latino communities took part in the uprising?
"Reading Rodney King/Reading Urban Uprising" includes essays by prominent philosophers, social scientists, literary critics and legal scholars. They explore these issues from a variety of distinct, theoretical perspectives, offering a nuanced picture of the Rodney King incidents. Avoiding reductionism, they illuminate the complex interplay of ideological, political and economic forces impinging on urban America.
With America's black, Hispanic, and Asian populations continuing to grow, the issue of race has come to dominate political debates on public policy and educational struggles over multicultural curricula. Expressing cynicism with "politics as usual," many Americans have felt the need to break from simplistic and stereotypical thinking about these issues. "Reading Rodney King/Reading Urban Uprising" will be valuable reading not only to public policy makers and educators, but to anyone looking for serious and fresh insights into the question of race in contemporary America.
Contributors: Houston A. Baker, Jr.; Judith Butler; Sumi K. Cho; Kimberle Crenshaw; Mike Davis; Thomas L. Dumm; Walter C. Farrell, Jr.; Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; Ruth Wilson Gilmore; Robert Gooding-Williams; James H. Johnson, Jr.; Elaine H. Kim; Melvin L. Oliver; Michael Omi; Gary Peller; Cedric J. Robinson; Jerry Watts; Cornel West; Patricia Williams; Rhonda M. Williams; Howard Winant.
. . . very impressive . . . These works are not about race and urban uprising. They are about all of us, not the American Dream but the American Real.