In school we are taught that histories are very different. Students learn about “African American History”, “Japanese-American History”, “Mexican-American History”, and so on. Learning the history of a race at different instances makes it so that we see histories as separate. What if I told you there is a place that demonstrates how very similar racial histories are?
This documentary is the perfect example of an untold side of history. after watching this film you will begin to realize how diverse Boyle Heights once was. This diversity allows you to see how racial histories inter-connect on the basis of displacement. this topic makes it quite difficult to put sources in sequential order because many of the sources intersect to form the fruitful history of Boyle Heights.
Mexicans and Mexican Americans experienced Repatriation in the 1930s. Repatriation was an ideology constructed by those in power, the government. Repatriated simply means being deported to the land you descendant from. This forced deportation led to the deportation of American citizens. Thousands of families were FORCED out of their homes and put onto trains with a Mexico destination. The Mexican community was removed from as well as the Japanese community located in Boyle Heights.
The United States was in war with Japan in the 1940s, this created a fear of Japanese Americans who lived in congregated neighborhoods.
Propaganda such as these were seen throughout the United States. This made the Dominant community (white people) scared. The government then decided on the worst idea possibly imagined. The government REMOVED Japanese Americans from their homes and imprisoned them in “Internment Camps”. This was no happy summer camps, many letters like the one shown below, describe the horrible conditions people faced. More letters and artifacts can be found at the Japanese American National Museum.
This letter is a communication maintained by two friends, a Japanese-American girl and an African American girl. The Japanese American girl located in an Internment camp and the African American girl is located at home, Boyle Heights
This is a photography of the friends who were writing letters to each other. By virtue of living in Los Angeles one is going to be in different places with different people. The interactions that you have are going to be shaped by other people. History demonstrates the same understanding by showing us how racial histories connect.
African American History is also shaped by removal. Urban Renewal REMOVED many African American families from their communities and placed them into Projects. Places where African Americans lived in were classified as “red” meaning least favorable areas. These classifications made it difficult for people to own property in neighborhoods they once lived in. this resulted in the REMOVAL of Jewish Americans living in Boyle Heights. After World War 2 Jewish Americans found themselves classified as white, making it difficult to own property in places that were marked “for blacks”, like Boyle Heights. There isn’t a single Jewish person living in Boyle Heights as of now but their presence is still notable.