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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
L.A. Riots: 20 Years Later

Korean American Expert Examines Race Relations

One USC professor examined Korean and African American racial tensions in the years following the L.A. Riots.

USC professor Ruth Chung said since the riots Los Angeles has evolved but some tensions remain the same.  

"Immigrants bring with them the internalized stereotypes towards African Americans," Chung said. "African Americans feel exploited and looked down upon which fuels these tensions."

Chung said a large part of deteriorated race relations stemmed from the two groups' inability to communicate efficiently. She believes however that there has been an improvement in the past twenty years. 

"The L.A. Riots served as a catalyst for better understanding and cooperation," Chung said.

She predicted that in order to continue moving forward, L.A. residents need to partake in actual interaction and search for similarities to bond over.

Chung said Christian faith is a key component that both Korean Americans and African Americans share.  She said she thinks they should emphasize this aspect as a point of similarity.

As a point of improvement in relations between these two groups, Chung conducted a national study in 2008 that showed Korean Americans actually feel closer to African Americans than some other Asian races.

"The Korean community is maturing," Chung said. "Second generation Korean Americans are becoming more prominent and communication has improved."


Racial Tensions of the L.A. Riots

L.A. Riots: A 'Community in Uproar'

Neon Tommy: Koreatown Earns Its Place in City History

Intersections: The Impact of the L.A. Riots on the Korean American Community

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