Politics & Policy

How the L.A. City Council Recording Represents Political Power Through Racism in the U.S.

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In October 2022, a secretly recorded backroom conversation between Los Angeles City Council members and a local union president was leaked online, and the fallout from the bombshell tape continues to shake L.A. — and national — politics. In the recording, the four political Latino leaders made racist remarks about Black people, Oaxacans, Jews, Armenians, and others, discussing how they could use the city’s redistricting process for their own benefit.

In this seminar, USC experts have an open, challenging conversation about the recording and how it represents the entrenched relationship between politics and racism in the United States. The panel features Manuel Pastor, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity and the Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences; Odilia Romero, executive director of Comunidades Indigenas en Liderazgo (CIELO); and Erika Smith, a columnist at the Los Angeles Times. It is moderated by Mindy Romero, founder and director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy at USC Price School of Public Policy.

Who Will Benefit

– Those looking for deeper insights on what the L.A. City Council recording means for local politics
– Political experts looking to meaningfully address incidents such as this in the future
– Those who want to understand how political power is exercised through racism

About Our Featured Faculty

Manuel Pastor is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. He currently directs the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) at USC and USC’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII). Pastor’s research has generally focused on issues of the economic, environmental and social conditions facing low-income urban communities – and the social movements seeking to change those realities. Pastor holds an economics PhD from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is the inaugural holder of the Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change at USC.

Mindy Romero is a professor at USC Price School of Public Policy and the founder and director of the USC Center for Inclusive Democracy (CID), which is part of USC Price and based in Sacramento, California. Romero is a political sociologist and holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Davis. Her research focuses on political behavior and race/ethnicity, and seeks to explain patterns of voting and political underrepresentation, particularly among youth and communities of color in California and the U.S. She is currently an adjunct fellow of the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) and a member of the California Secretary of State’s Taskforce on the Voter’s Choice Act. She is the former Chair of Mutual Housing California and former Vice-Chair of the Social Services Commission for the City of Davis.