With Eileen Wallis, author of Earning Power: Women and Work in Los Angeles, 1880 – 1930 and professor of History at Cal Poly, Pomona.



In our 59th episode, we have the privilege of speaking with Robert Chlala (@robertchlala), a final-year PHD candidate at USC’s Sociology department and graduate researcher at the college’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity. Robert Chlala (shuh-ley-la) is a queer migrant, a Nichiren Buddhist, and a cannabis equity organizer from Los Angeles. We discuss Robert’s upbringing through the days of Prop 187, or the draconian anti-immigrant initiative passed by Californians in 1994, his and his family’s experience with L.A.’s regional economy for surplus laborers as described by Ruth Wilson Gilmore, his time studying under none other than UCLA’s Anyana Roy, his work in advocacy for wealth redistribution in Black and Brown communities through L.A.’s Cannabis Social Equity program, and much more. A can’t-miss session for graduate students and organizers in the LOS!


Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 17

The city of Los Angeles’s strength lies, as for most cities, in its workers. Its strength lies in its creative sector. Its strength lies in its entertainment and food, and in bustling competition within each of these “sectors.” But that does not mean that these sources of strength are not in need of support or themselves. I think mostly of the workers.

One question I’ve not heard asked of mayor Garcetti or governor Newsom yet is the following: once the crisis is through, what’s the city’s–and the state’s–plan for the millions of workers currently staffing cash registers, stocking store aisles, cleaning and disposing of our garbage, and more? As in, how do Los Angeles and cities across California plan to protect these most essential workers not only at this moment, but from here on out for their critical part in supporting our communities’ daily movement?

In the mayor’s final update for this week, he noted that Trump’s $2 trillion dollar stimulus package will serve as the main engine for supporting small businesses in Los Angeles, with just one discrepancy: the money will be overwhelmingly distributed in the form of low-interest, “forgivable” loans, even though details about which businesses may qualify for “forgiveness” are unclear, and even while such loans should be zero interest; small business owners are not at fault for the health-care crisis. The U.S. government, on the other hand, should be on the hook for untold sums owed to those citizens of most humble means. But let’s not digress:

Garcetti’s address also noted that $50 million dollars are on the way from the Housing and Urban Development department for the crisis.

However, in Los Angeles, $50 million for housing is the equivalent of finding a couple of nickels under the vending machine at the laundromat; though it’s an addition to your pocket, you don’t get much added value. Just consider what Governor Newsom’s $50 million at the start of California’s shutdown was allotted to: some 1,300 travel trailers and under 1,000 leases for hotel rooms in which to place the state’s unhoused population.

There are an estimated 150,000 unhoused citizens in the state, more than 25,000 of whom lost their housing or started living in their cars during the last two years alone.

In other words, in California the state’s response to the coronavirus is increasingly highlighting a greater, far longer-term public health crisis: a lack of affordable housing for millions of the state’s workers, taxpayers, and other essential contributors. The situation remains crucial in Los Angeles.

But after COVID-19, there should be no more bus drivers in Los Angeles who can’t afford to live in L.A. County, nor anymore grocery store clerks, restaurant chain employees, sanitation workers, veterans or youth, elderly and others without options for affordable housing, adequate access to health-care, and on.

As UCLA’s professor of epidemiology and community health sciences, Kim-Farley, recently noted:

There is life after COVID-19.

I’d say the time to start discussing and planning for that life is now. In Los Angeles, we can look to the city’s past for some instruction.