By Jared Sanchez, Mirabai Auer, Veronica Terriquez, and Mi Young Kim
Prepared in collaboration with the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA)
Please note: reports dated earlier than June 2020 were published under our previous names: the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) or the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII).
On the twentieth anniversary of both the founding of Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA) and the L.A. civil unrest, Koreatown: A Contested Community at a Crossroads takes stock of changes over the past two decades, lifts up new challenges, and charts the possibilities for the next twenty years.
A collaboration between KIWA and the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE), the report tells the story of a diverse, immigrant, working-class community caught at the crossroads of globalization and urban redevelopment–forces threatening to displace many. Koreatown has become a highly sought-after global neighborhood with new developments and businesses that are often controlled by foreign investors.
In 1992, KIWA, only a few months old, responded to the civil unrest by organizing Korean and Latino immigrant workers to fight for their fair share of income that was lost in the destruction–and then took on other abuses rampant in the restaurant industry. Twenty years later, the crisis facing low-wage workers and residents may be less visible–but the way forward is much the same. KIWA and others’ sustained, grassroots approach to urban problems can reach both the depth and scale needed to address the root causes of poverty, low-wage work, and overcrowding.
With its deep commitment to organizing residents and workers across race and language, KIWA can take a lead on how to build an L.A. that represents our hopes for a just, inclusive, and livable future.
Read our other publications by research area
Immigrant Integration & Racial Justice
Our work on immigrant integration and racial justice brings together three emphases: scholarship that draws on academic theory and rigorous research, data that provides information structured to highlight the process of immigrant integration over time, and engagement that seeks to create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants and the voting public to advance immigrant integration and racial equity.
Economic Inclusion & Climate Equity
In the area of economic inclusion, we at ERI advance academic theory and practical applications linking economic growth, environmental quality, and civic health with bridging of racial and other gaps; produce accessible and actionable data and analysis through the data tools; and establish research partnerships to deepen and advance the dialogue, planning, and actions around racial equity, environmental justice, and the built environment.
Social Movements & Governing Power
ERI’s work in the area of governing power includes: conducting cross-disciplinary studies of today’s social movements, supporting learning and strategizing efforts to advance dialogues among organizers, funders, intermediaries, evaluators, and academics, and developing research-based social change frameworks and tools to inform—and be informed by—real-world, real-time efforts towards a vision of deep change.
In 2020, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) merged to form the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI).
The full list of publications published under our previous and current names can be found in our publications directory.