American cities are constantly being built and rebuilt, resulting in ever-changing skylines and neighborhoods. While the dynamic urban landscapes of New York, Boston, and Chicago have been widely studied, there is much to be gleaned from west coast cities, especially in California, where the migration boom at the end of the nineteenth century permanently changed the urban fabric of these newly diverse, plural metropolises.
In A City for Children, Marta Gutman focuses on the use and adaptive reuse of everyday buildings in Oakland, California, to make the city a better place for children. She introduces us to the women who were determined to mitigate the burdens placed on working-class families by an indifferent industrial capitalist economy. Often without the financial means to build from scratch, women did not tend to conceive of urban land as a blank slate to be wiped clean for development. Instead, Gutman shows how, over and over, women turned private houses in Oakland into orphanages, kindergartens, settlement houses, and day care centers, and in the process built the charitable landscape—a network of places that was critical for the betterment of children, families, and public life. The industrial landscape of Oakland, riddled with the effects of social inequalities and racial prejudices, is not a neutral backdrop in Gutman’s story but an active player. Spanning one hundred years of history, A City for Children provides a compelling model for building urban institutions and demonstrates that children, women, charity, and incremental construction, renovations, alterations, additions, and repurposed structures are central to the understanding of modern cities.
In this hybrid memoir, Alberto Ledesma wonders, At what point does a long-time undocumented immigrant become an American in the making? From undocumented little boy to “hyper documented” university professor, Ledesma recounts how even now, he sometimes finds himself reverting to the child he was, recalling his father’s words: “Mijo, it doesn’t matter how good you think your English is, la migra will still get you.”
Exploring Ledesma’s experiences from immigrant to student to academic, Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer presents a humorous, gritty, and multilayered portrait of undocumented immigrant life in urban America. Ledesma’s vignettes about life in the midst of ongoing social trauma give voice to a generation that has long been silent about its struggles. Delving into the key moments of cultural transition throughout his childhood and adulthood—police at the back door waiting to deport his family, the ex-girlfriend who threatens to call INS and report him, and the interactions with law enforcement even after he is no longer undocumented—Ledesma, through his art and his words, provides a glimpse into the psychological and philosophical concerns of undocumented immigrant youth who struggle to pinpoint their identity and community.
"This book . . . examines the problem of police corruption . . . in such a way that the stereotype of the crude, greedy cop who is basically a grown-up delinquent, if not an out-and-out robber, yields to portraits of particular men, often of earnest good will and even more than ordinary compassion, contending with an enormously demanding and challenging job."—Robert Coles, New Yorker
"Other social scientists have observed policemen on patrol, or have interviewed them systematically. Professor Muir has brought the two together, and, because of the philosophical depth he brings to his commentaries, he has lifted the sociology of the police on to a new level. He has both observed the men and talked with them at length about their personal lives, their conceptions of society and of the place of criminals within it. His ambition is to define the good policeman and to explain his development, but his achievement is to illuminate the philosophical and occupational maturation of patrol officers in 'Laconia' (a pseudonym) . . . . His discussions of [the policemen's] moral development are threaded through with analytically suggestive formulations that bespeak a wisdom very rarely encountered in reports of sociological research."—Michael Banton, Times Literary Supplement
In the struggle over affirmative action, no employment setting has seen more friction than urban fire departments. Thirty years of legal and political efforts have opened the doors of this historically white male preserve, but men of color have yet to consolidate their gains, and women's progress has been even more tenuous. In this unique and compelling account of affirmative action at the "street level," Carol Chetkovich explores the ways in which this program has succeeded and failed.
Chetkovich follows the men and women of the Oakland Fire Department Class 1-91 through their academy training and eighteen-month probation. In vivid and sometimes surprising narratives, newcomers tell of their first battle with a full-fledged fire, their reactions to hazing rituals, and their relationships with veterans and fellow trainees. Real Heat explores how the process of becoming a firefighter interacts with the dimensions of race and gender to support some and discourage others. The book examines the implications of these interactions for public policy and social justice.
In The Revolution Has Come Robyn C. Spencer traces the Black Panther Party's organizational evolution in Oakland, California, where hundreds of young people came to political awareness and journeyed to adulthood as members. Challenging the belief that the Panthers were a projection of the leadership, Spencer draws on interviews with rank-and-file members, FBI files, and archival materials to examine the impact the organization's internal politics and COINTELPRO's political repression had on its evolution and dissolution. She shows how the Panthers' members interpreted, implemented, and influenced party ideology and programs; initiated dialogues about gender politics; highlighted ambiguities in the Panthers' armed stance; and criticized organizational priorities. Spencer also centers gender politics and the experiences of women and their contributions to the Panthers and the Black Power movement as a whole. Providing a panoramic view of the party's organization over its sixteen-year history, The Revolution Has Come shows how the Black Panthers embodied Black Power through the party's international activism, interracial alliances, commitment to address state violence, and desire to foster self-determination in Oakland's black communities.
In When Riot Cops Are Not Enough, sociologist and activist Mike King examines the policing, and broader political repression, of the Occupy Oakland movement during the fall of 2011 through the spring of 2012. King’s active and daily participation in that movement, from its inception through its demise, provides a unique insider perspective to illustrate how the Oakland police and city administrators lost the ability to effectively control the movement.
Drawn from King’s intensive field work, the book focuses on the physical, legal, political, and ideological dimensions of repression—in the streets, in courtrooms, in the media, in city hall, and within the movement itself—When Riot Cops Are Not Enough highlights the central role of political legitimacy, both for mass movements seeking to create social change, as well as for governmental forces seeking to control such movements. Although Occupy Oakland was different from other Occupy sites in many respects, King shows how the contradictions it illuminated within both social movement and police strategies provide deep insights into the nature of protest policing generally, and a clear map to understanding the full range of social control techniques used in North America in the twenty-first century.