Race Relations in Koreatown — Community Engagement Report Proposal

Ricardo Lopez-Garcia
4 min readOct 2, 2020
This is Koreatown (Google Maps)

The summer of 2020 may go down as a time when the United States confronted a reckoning with its history of racism. In Koreatown, aside from it being promoted as a cultural hotbed where food reigns supreme, it hasn’t been in the news that much when it comes to race relations aside from 1992, although a protest similar to ones occurring around the country took place in July.

I am leaning toward focusing this report on people’s interactions with each other along racial lines, as well as their opinions about race relations. Based on the responses I’ve received so far, respondents highlighted that while everyone gets along in their neighborhood, racial inequality still exists. Everyone in a neighborhood may be in agreement with a cause or a movement, such as Black Lives Matter, but they may have differing opinions when looking at certain aspects of its activity. Race has played a key role in their lives and those interviewed who identified as immigrants cited that race and immigration go hand in hand.

I’m sure that by now, many pieces about a city’s residents’ thoughts on race relations have appeared a lot since this summer. How this may be different from what has been reported before is that here, the focus is on an already multicultural neighborhood. Like what my colleagues are doing, this will give a local angle on the events that are occurring across the nation.

Source: CensusReporter

While Koreatown’s name implies that Koreans make up the majority (they are currently the second-largest population in the neighborhood), Latinos makes up the majority. It might have been in recent years that Blacks and whites moved in. It would be obvious that I should present the Latino and Korean perspectives (as they make up most of Koreatown’s residents), but it may be a bit tougher to seek other perspectives as they make up a small population.

Wilshire and Western, Koreatown’s main intersection (Credit: Ricardo Lopez-Garcia)

With techniques set by the Listening Post, I already chose my community —Koreatown, and I have already did prior research on the community. I’ve tested the questions with people in the community, although I have yet to enter Step 5 — engagement. That may apply when conducting to report, however, because of COVID-19, it might be difficult to accomplish most of the steps, notably Steps 3 and 5 as there aren’t many events going on right now…unless the Internet could land me some sources.

One concern I have is whether I could still use the test questions once conducting the formal project and seeking stories. Would the responses I listed on the spreadsheet going to be in the project’s final form, or would I have to go back to my sources and go more in-depth with them? Could I still use my sources’ quotes from the test questions in the final project? After testing a first draft of questions with two sources, I tweaked and added more questions for later sources, and their replies gave signs that the tweaks helped as they went further in depth with their answers, unlike the first draft.

The second draft of test questions I used included the following:

  • Were you aware about calls for social justice before this summer’s protests?
  • Has race played a role in your life? If so, how?
  • Has there been incidents related to racism, whether you or someone you knew experienced it, that caused you to take action?
  • What are your thoughts on the state of race relations in America?
  • What do you think are solutions to resolve race relations?

With the additional test questions, it gave some oomph to the project’s goals.

Sure, there will be additional questions that may arise along the way since I’m mulling over asking community-centric questions.

Just to give examples, I may ask everyone, especially Latinos, about how immigration how it played a role in their lives (if applicable), while I may ask Koreans if they, or someone they knew experienced the 1992 upheaval in their neighborhood, which played a huge role in Koreatown’s history. But in the meantime, I will ask more questions revolving race and their definitions of “identity.” At the recommendation of my colleagues, I could ask about Koreatown residents’ opinions on law enforcement yet to my surprise, two people who I recently interviewed brought up their opinions of the police when I asked about their thoughts on the state of race relations in the nation.

At the moment, I plan to present the information via a written report. As far as presenting the story, I’m not quite sure what method I am going to use yet, but I’m leaning towards audio, possibly crafting a podcast-esque presentation.

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Ricardo Lopez-Garcia
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CSUN Journalism student, 2021 (anticipated)