What happens in a society so diverse that no ethnic group can call itself the majority? Exploring a question that has profound relevance for the nation as a whole, this study looks closely at eclectic neighborhoods in California where multiple minorities constituted the majority during formative years of the twentieth century. In a lively account, woven throughout with vivid voices and experiences drawn from interviews, ethnic newspapers, and memoirs, Allison Varzally examines everyday interactions among the Asian, Mexican, African, Native, and Jewish Americans, and others who lived side by side. What she finds is that in shared city spaces across California, these diverse groups mixed and mingled as students, lovers, worshippers, workers, and family members and, along the way, expanded and reconfigured ethnic and racial categories in new directions.
Allison Varzally is Assistant Professor of History at California State University, Fullerton.