This April will be the 20th anniversary of the 1992 LA Riots.
Obviously, I can’t possibly summarize the event in a short blog post, let alone convey how much of an impact it had on the racial politics in LA and in the country. So instead, we’ll read and listen to the perspectives of some of those who lived through it.
One of the most memorable statements made during the riots was undeniably Rodney King asking, “Can we all get along? … Can we stop making it horrible for the older people and the kids? … I’m neutral, I love people of color.”
Ice Cube had a different opinion. His song, “Black Korea,” was boycotted by the leaders of the Korean American community, who felt that it incited violence and racial tension. (Obviously, this song only represents the thoughts of Ice Cube himself.)
For another perspective, here’s the trailer from SA I GU, a documentary released in 1993 by director Dai Sil Kim-Gibson. It shares the testimonies of the women in the Korean and Korean American community who lived through the riots. The film makes sure to note that these women are “speaking only for themselves.”
And Ed Bok Lee (one of my favorite poets) dedicates Riot in Heaven to Edward Song Lee, who didn’t make it through the violence and chaos of the 1992 riots. (I don’t actually think this poet was there during the riots, but its relevant anyhow.)
And these only offer bits and pieces of the story. If you want to explore more, I’ve got exciting news: UC Riverside is leading a conference titled, “Confronting Sa-I-Gu: 20 Years After Koreatown Burned,” on April 28. I wish I could be there. If any of y’all make it, let me know what you got to hear and learn.
(Photo credit: Museum of the City) [h/t: John]