The United Nations in a City: Racial Ideas in Edendale, on the Left, and in Wartime Los Angeles

Daniel Hurewitz

in Bohemian Los Angeles

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780520249257
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520941694 | DOI:
The United Nations in a City: Racial Ideas in Edendale, on the Left, and in Wartime Los Angeles

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Even as Edendale Communists elaborated and deepened their own sense of community and their own distinct politicized identity, they also become increasingly concerned with the identities of others. In particular, the white Angelenos were eventually paying attention to racial identities and the treatment of racial minorities in the city. Across the 1930s and 1940s, the white Communists and Edendale leftists became focused on addressing racial discrimination and injustice. In fact, for many Edendale leftists, what drew them to the Party and its associate organizations was the priority over racial issues. Beyond cultivating a community, culture, and identity of their own, they also examined identities broadly as a matter of political practice and principle. This chapter discusses the Communist and related organizations’ effort to bring forth the issue of racial discrimination. It discusses the emergence of racial issues during and after World War II. During this period, racial concerns became central for many Angelenos, particularly the whites. The conflicts over race during the war and postwar years injected a vital conceptual framework into the evolving thinking about the political meaning of individual essence: the broad notion of oppressed social minorities with valid political claims. As the essence was being politicized, the racial battles of the 1940s promoted a clear and powerful model of oppression-driven group-based political power. This model formed the base for the quest for essence in an explicitly political framework of group action. The awakening of the Angelenos to racial identities and racial discrimination transformed the understandings of the city and how other minority groups came to see themselves.

Keywords: Edendale Communists; sense of community; politicized identity; racial identities; racial minorities; racial discrimination

Chapter.  16258 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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