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Diversity in Local Politics Overview This paper explores the limits and potentials of ethnic and racial coalition building in Los Angeles The demographic changes that have occurred in Los Angeles during the past twenty years have been extraordinary both in scope and diversity The area has witnessed a literal boom in population growth increasing from 7 million in 1970 to 88 million in 1990 US Bureau of the Census However it is the dramatic change in ethnic and racial diversity of the population which has caught most observers attention Los Angeles has taken on a new form in terms of its racial diversity moving from a biracial to a multiethnic setting The non-Hispanic White population has declined from its 71 percent share in 1970 to a narrow numerical plurality of 41 percent of the countys population in 1990 Meanwhile the Latino and Asian Pacific population witnessed a doubling -- from 15 to 39 -- and near quadrupling - from 3 to 11 of their population shares respectively Meanwhile African Americans while slightly growing numerically were a constant share of the county population 11 during this period Oliver and Johnson57-94 Thus on the eve of the twenty-first century Los Angeles has one of the most ethnically diverse populations of any metropolitan area in the country What does this ethnic diversity mean for multiethnic coalition building in the politics of Los Angeles County Does the changing demography increase the opportunity for ethnic cooperation Or has the ethnic changes increased rather than decreased the prospects of interethnic conflict Introduction After the 1992 riots a clarion call was issued from all corners for the emerging multiethnic majority to take its rightful place in the politics and leadership of the city A multiethnic coalition it ws suggested could lead the city to a new multicultural future This call was clearly built on the assumption that three divers groups - African Americans Asian Pacific Islanders and Latinos - could come
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