"It's Not All Black and White": The 1992 L.A. Riots, Interminority Race Relations, and Minority Press Response

Cynn, Samantha, Media, Culture, and Technology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Bodroghkozy, Aniko, AS-Media Studies (MDST), University of Virginia

This thesis conducts content analyses of three separate media channels’ coverage of interminority race relations during the 1992 Los Angeles riots: mainstream broadcast news, the Black minority press, and the English edition of a Korean-language newspaper. Such research indicates that mainstream news outlets conformed to the “Black-Korean conflict” news frame and presented sympathetic yet alienating coverage of Korean American subjects in order to relatively valorize them, juxtaposed by unsympathetic, dangerously “deviant” characterizations of Black American rioters. Minority press, then, serves as an affective racial counterpublic to both rebuff certain normalized assumptions contained in mainstream coverage, while naturalizing and accepting others. The Black press works to more overtly critique instruments of power and systems of oppression that contradict the myth of the American Dream, but reinforces conceptions of the Black-white binary and diametric opposition between the Korean and Black communities. Korean-language media aimed at transitional- and second-generation Korean Americans, then, both challenge broader institutions and explicitly oppose the “Black-Korean conflict” framing device, promoting a shared sense of Korean American identity in the process. This thesis not only argues that these forums for dialogue each reflect the subjectivities and prejudices of its producers and consumers, but also examines how the resonances of such discourses still hold weight in the modern day.

MA (Master of Arts)
L.A. riots, news media, ethnic media, minority press, Black-Korean conflict, interminority racism, racial triangulation, news framing
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