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!"#$%&'(' Rachel Nguyen Prof.

Kuroki English 100 STACC 9 November 2013 ESSAY #3 The novel Southland, written by Nina Revoyr, focuses on a Japanese American woman named Jackie Ishida, who investigates into her late grandfather, Frank Ishida's will. Jackies attempt to fulfill her grandfathers last wishes, will lead her to reopening a murder case during the Watts Riots. Jackie works on the investigation with James Lanier, a cousin of one of the murder victims, whose body was found in Franks store freezer. Los Angeles is predominantly known for being the city of crimes and ethnic diversity. Throughout the novel, many of the characters like Frank, Jackie, Robert Thomas, and Curtis, will encounter first hand the different forms of discrimination having to deal with race. Jackies lack of knowledge about her family history will slowly change as she gets deeper into her investigation, she will learn about the obstacles that people she knew had to suffer with due to racial discrimination. Jackies lack of knowledge for her family and racial history is shown as she described, she has seen gatherings of elderly Asian peoplegatherings of elderly blacks; but never before had she seen the two in one place (157). As Jackie explained, she had never seen two different races in the same facility before, yet alone interacting with one another. It is ironic to see Jackie, the granddaughter of the man who had such an important impact on the lives of many African Americans in the neighborhood, to be unaware of the racial diversity amongst Los Angeles. Japanese Americans have had to deal with racial discrimination before and after the attack on Pearl Harbor. In the novel, Frank Ishidas character and many other Japanese-Americans were

!"#$%&')' evacuated from their homes and were placed into holding facilities and internment camps. Frank Ishida and people of Japanese descent in Los Angeles were told, They had a weekto prepare for their departure (Revoyr 107). Franks family and people of Japanese descent were portrayed in the media as the enemy and were also depicted as spies working for Japan. The medias depiction on people of Japanese descent not only isolated people, but also added to the racial tension during the time. Once people were placed into the internment camps, they lost their human and citizenship rights as an American. Japanese Americans were subjected to improper sanitary camp conditions and medical care. Robert Thomas and his family were treated unfairly against due to the residential segregation that was common across many parts of Los Angeles County. Thomas and his family received backlash from their new community because they were going to be the first black family to ever move into the neighborhood. The neighborhood dealt with the anger of having African Americans move into their community, by having crosses burnt on Thomass lawn for the first week they moved into the neighborhood (Revoyr 239). The neighborhood was predominantly an all-white community, and by Thomas moving in, he disrupted the norm that people in the neighborhood were used to. Even though Thomas knew that staying in the neighborhood would cause conflict, he was not going to budge. He believed that they had the right to live in the community, and that no one was going discriminate him and his family, even if it meant living in fear, or danger. Racial discrimination between people of the same race, or ethnicity may not have been as common, but it did not mean it was not happening. Robert Thomas is an African American police officer, who expresses his displeasure for the black community when he explains how he had worked so hard to get beyond these people, who still had, to him, that stench of poverty and

!"#$%&'*' long ago plantations (Revoyr 238). As an African American man, Thomas dehumanizes against his own race by stereotyping all African Americans into a category of being poor. He has the assumption that it is beneath him, and his family to be considered black because being black meant to him, that people were either in the lower class, wild, or uneducated. Despite his own family struggles with race, he still finds himself superior to the black community. The novel also spoke about another important event that occurred in Los Angeles, which dealt with indentured Thai servants, who were being held captive, and forced to work in inhuman conditions. During the year of 1994, there were twenty, or so immigrant Thai women, and girls who were found working illegally at an apartment complex, sewing clothes. The women were forced to work from 7 a.m. to midnight, six days a week and were given threats if they failed to complete all of their work in time (Schoenberger). The Thai workers were brought to America believing they would have a job that would potentially help take care of their family back home in Thailand. Instead, the Thai women were essentially brought to America to become indentured slaves, who had no say in how they were being treated due to the enormous amounts of threats that were told to the women to scare them. Nick Lawson is best known in the novel as a racist cop, who is suspected for the murder of the four boys who were found dead in Frank Ishidas store freezer. Nick Lawson was persistent when it came to accusing Curtis for numerous illegal acts, and he constantly tormented Curtis. For instance, when Lawson accused Curtis of stealing a guitar that he noticed Curtis was playing with in an alley alongside a few other boys, but in actuality, Curtiss cousin, Cory Martindale, found the guitar in the dumpsters that day. Curtis tried to reason with Lawson; by pleading that he didnt steal anything (Revoyr 213), but all Lawson replied with was bullshit! (Revoyr 213). Lawson automatically accuses Curtis of being guilty because he was African American.

!"#$%&'+' This meant to Lawson, that everyone who was black was a criminal of some sort, even if there was no proper evidence of wrongdoing. Lawson is not shy about his disgust for African Americans, making it easier for him to use physical force against Curtis, when he found him in the alley. Police officers are supposed to keep civilians away from danger, but instead, he is the one causing unnecessary conflict. Another common form of discrimination would be the use of racial slurs that dehumanizes individuals. The first time Franks father, Kazuo, stepped onto American soil in 1903, he was greeted by a gang of white thugs, who decided to shout out racial slurs such as, Japs and Yellow perverts! (Revoyr 92). Kazuo was not just greeted with racial slurs, but also had horse poop thrown on him. The word Jap is a derogatory term that was commonly used during World War II, to dehumanize the Japanese soldiers. By calling Kazuo a Jap, they were implying that they were superior to Kazuo and the Japanese community. Many people choose to use racial slurs as a way to offend and create a reaction out of the people, and that is exactly what the gang of white men were doing to Kazuo. In conclusion, the novel showcases the different forms of racial discrimination that many of the character in Southland had to cope with. The novel not only displayed racial discrimination through the characters, but also through various important events that occurred in Los Angeles during the time. At the time, Los Angeles was a city notorious for being multicultural, but the downside to that was the violence that came about through racial differences.


!"#$%&',' ' -./01'234%5' Daniel, Rogers. Return to Freedom. Prisoners Without Trial. 1993. 72-88. New York: Eric Froner. Print. !"##$%&'(")*+"#6'7%//389:-%;14%/6'-%;6'(<'!.=6')>(*6'' ?%=.$/@'!3&86',-.+/0%126'!%A'B./0C'D081E3F6')>>*6'G/3&46 Schoenberger, Karl. "Escapee Sparked Sweatshop Raid: Labor: To Report Abuse, Thai Worker Risked Deportation and Defied Threats." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. 11 Aug. 1995. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.