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Why L.A. Happened: Implications of the '92 Los Angeles Rebellion.

Los Angeles is on fire. That was a nationwide cry a year ago, and predictably a slew of books are being published to commemorate, discuss and analyze this historic civil unrest. What distinguishes Why L.A. Happened: Implications of the '92 Los Angeles Rebellion, edited by noted poet and activist Haki R. Madhubuti, is its impressive list of commentators. It is a clear clarion from Madhubuti, the publisher of the 25-year-old Third World Press. The more than 25 essays and poems from such authors as poet Gwendolyn Brooks, writer Terry McMillan, social critic Bell Hooks and political commentator Kalamu Ya Salaam are endowed with probity and insight.

Mainly short, punchy pieces, the essays are written from several topical perspectives, though the ideological current is inarguably Afrocentric. Given this mode of analysis, racism and white supremacy take a deserved whipping. "Racism is a growth industry, especially in an economic depression," Madhubuti writes in his epilogue. And each of the writers contends that racism is the principal culprit in the L.A. rebellion and seemingly every other racial disturbance in America's turbulent past. This is evident from Tony Martin's survey of oppression from slavery to Rodney King, to Bebe Moore Campbell's charge that it will never disappear.

The book has weaknesses. One, it lacks any penetrating class analysis. Two, there are no on-the-ground commentaries or reports from community activists close to the fires. Such an assessment would have provided the book with an additional spark. If none of the writers were eyewitnesses to the multicultural insurrection, they know only intuitively what it means and how it might happen again.

"This will not be our final word," Madhubuti promises. But even if it were, it would remain a carefully considered, well-chosen word that resonates with conviction and vision. --Herb Boyd

Why LA. Happened: Implications of the '92 Los Angeles Rebellion edited by Haki R. Madhubuti; Third World Press. P.O. Box 19730, Chicago, III., 60619, 1993, 287pp, $14.95
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Boyd, Herb
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 1993
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