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Ceasing Fire and Seizing Time: LA Gang Tours and the White Control of Mobility

Sarah Sharma and Armonds R. Towns

Keywords: Chapel Hill shootings; gentrification; LA Gang Tours; mobility; whiteness

Abstract

LA Gang Tours went on its inaugural ride through Los Angeles in 2010. Black

and Latino former gang members from South Los Angeles lead the bus tours,

sharing personal stories of gang life with mostly white tourists. A popular critique

of the tour is that it facilitates a tourist gaze. However, we argue that to

focus on the tourist gaze misses a more pressing opportunity to examine the

production of whiteness. We shift the focus to consider the bus’s movement

and the power it exerts in transforming the spatial and temporal dynamics

of South Los Angeles. Based on participant observation, ethnographic interviews,

and discourse analysis of materials surrounding the tours, we found

that the tour lays the figurative foundations for gentrifi cation and reconfi rms

a white control of mobility in the neighborhood. Th is white control of mobility

extends beyond Los Angeles to impact the lives of people of color throughout

the United States.

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