People often say that nobody in L.A. is from L.A. but that’s not the truth. Many of us have been in Los Angeles our whole lives and are proud to call it home. No, the truth is the people with roots in Los Angeles have been repeatedly pulled out of the city as if we were weeds.
So how does one reconcile the darker aspects of the city they love? Do we turn our back on the city or try to create a better future by learning from the past? The first step to improvement is recognizing the problem, the next is education. It is our responsibility to learn the history and understand our relationship with the city. The final step is to share what we’ve learned with others and seek out meaningful conversations. This is why I was excited when the folks at L.A. Meekly mentioned such a conversation was happening this week.
Thursday, September 24, the Glendale Public Library is presenting an online conversation between author Eric Nusbaum and Los Angeles Times writer and author Gustavo Arellano. The webinar is part of the Be the Change Series meant to foster Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Antiracism (IDEA).
In 2020, a year without in-person baseball or much urban exploration, the book that’s had the most impact on me has been Eric Nusbaum’s Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between. Nusbaum has written for ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and other publications. The book brilliantly details the events that erased three mostly Mexican American communities from the map of Los Angeles and replaced them with the iconic Dodger Stadium.
Gustavo Arellano is seemingly everywhere in Los Angeles, especially if it involves food. He writes for the Los Angeles Times and for KCRW, and wrote the book Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. On his own website, he chronicles food spots and his daily life as he navigates the city. He’s a voice to get to know if you love Los Angeles and his book is now on my reading list.
L.A. Meekly Podcast
L.A. Meekly is a Los Angeles history and comedy podcast hosted by Daniel Zafran and Greg Gonzalez. New episodes are released the first day of every month but a second, mid-month episode in advance of this Thursday’s webinar was made available last week. The special episode features three historic instances of displacement in Los Angeles: the forced conversion and erasure of the Kizh native people, the removal and incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans from their homes in Terminal Island, and the freeway interchanges that destroyed homes and sliced through Boyle Heights without regard for the majority Latino community that called it home.