Displaying items by tag: Los Angeles riots

Between 1980 and 1995, Korean immigrants were heavily concentrated in small businesses. A large proportion of their retail stores (grocery, liquor, produce, seafood, and hair-care/clothing/gift shops) were located in lower-income Black and Latino neighborhoods. Korean merchants distributed retail items, mostly produced by White corporations, to lower-income minority customers in neighborhoods where White corporations and independent store owners were reluctant to run businesses due to high crime rates and the residents’ lower spending capacity. Korean immigrants played a classic middleman minority role in lower-income minority neighborhoods in major American cities. Like middleman merchants in other societies (Jews in Poland and the U.S., Chinese in Southeast Asian countries, and Indians in South and East Africa), Korean merchants in Black neighborhoods were victimized by boycotts, physical violence, arson, and riots. All major Korean communities in the U.S. experienced Korean-Black conflicts in the 1980s and early 1990s. However, the interracial conflicts were most severe in New York and Los Angeles, the two largest Korean population centers in the U.S. This chapter from Pyong Gap Min’s book, Caught in the Middle: Korean Communities in New York and Los Angeles, examines Korean merchants’ business-related conflicts with Blacks in New York and Los Angeles in the 1980s and early 1990s. Korean merchants in New York City’s Black neighborhoods encountered several long-term boycotts, while those in South Central Los Angeles suffered more physical violence and destruction of their stores during the riots.  Reading this chapter on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Sa-I-Gu will be meaningful. 


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