SGV Connect 105 Interview: Chris Greenspon Interviews Author James Zarsadiaz

Chris Greenspon (CG) : James, welcome to SGV Connect.

James (JZ) : Great to be here.

CG : So describe your home region, the East San Gabriel Valley.

James : First of all, I grew up in the region. I was born and raised in the region. And to me the East San Gabriel Valley is somewhat different from the West San Gabriel Valley in terms of the way it looks and feels and it’s developed over time. That’s a big reason why I wrote this book is to kind of mark those distinctions but also to think through the the commonalities across the valley.

East San Gabriel Valley itself to me is just this wonderful crazy quilt of masterplan community, single family homes, mansions and ranch houses and an older kind of cottages if you want to call it, that strip malls of all varieties that service a range of communities. To me when I think of the East San Gabreil Valley, much like the whole San Gabriel Valley, it’s very ethnically and racially diverse. And I think in many ways, that’s why I find the San Gabriel Valley to be a very fascinating part of Southern California.

It’s not just its history, but kind of how its developed over time and the communities that live there and how crucial the valley is to just the development, the economic development, but also the kind of culture and politics of Greater LA.

CG : So the term that comes up over and over again, in your book while you’re describing life in the East San Gabriel Valley is country living. You’re using it in reference to about five or six specific cities and unincorporated communities. What is country living and why does it exist?

JZ : So I use the term country living in the book regularly and I also kind of interchangeably use that with frontier nostalgia. I noticed a common theme during the research period in which a lot of housing advertisers, city officials, in towns like Walnut or Diamond Bar; realtors, especially and local residents themselves kept deploying this idea that they lived in the frontier. They lived in the country. They lived in a kind of rural environment of California.

Country living, was very much a kind of major, attraction to why you would move to the East San Gabriel Valley, particularly six communities I focus on so I focus on Walnut and Diamond Bar as well as Rowland Heights and Hacienda Heights, a community within the city of Pomona known as Phillips Ranch.

And while not technically part of San Gabriel Valley, I included Chino Hills, because it developed around the same period and in the same fashion as its neighbors like Walnut and Diamond Bar. Technically Chino Hills is part of San Bernardino County and not the San Gabriel Valley, but a lot of residents tend to kind of cluster them as as as one as one of the same if you will.

A lot of those communities embody this country living ideal of ranch style living, the Old West romanticized ideas of this western frontier that was rugged and open and free. And in many ways just kind of gave off this impression that if you were to live in the East San Gabriel Valley, you lived in this kind of static period of gracious living and, and calm away from the noise and away from the distractions of modernity, and the so called chaos of the city…in other words, LA.

And so that was a major attraction to these communities. But even I focus on these six there were others that have similar profiles. So San Dimas, which is also part of the San Gabriel Valley, parts of Glendora. I can go on and on even parts of Covina or South Hills in West Covina. These are communities that a lot of them were positioned or advertised as getting a slice of the country living particularly since the 1970s and all the way through to the early 21st century. So that’s why country living is the framework that I use throughout the book to kind of understand what the appeal was of these communities and how residents use country living as a way to understand where they are as suburbanites, as Americans, as people who live in Southern California.

CG : Yeah, there are Western aesthetics all over those towns, pioneer parks and whatnot.

JZ : Totally.

CG : I’m curious why did Asian settlement in this area of the San Gabriel Valley explode in the 1980s and 1990s. What appealed so much specifically, about the East San Gabriel Valley versus the west where things started kicking up more in the 70s?

JZ : The the short, kind of history right of Asian immigrant settlement in particular, in the San Gabriel Valley started so to speak in Monterey Park. When Fred Shay bought up all this property and declared that Monterey Park would be the Chinese Beverly Hills.

And so he advertised that and through word of mouth, a lot of immigrants who were planning to Chinese folks who were planning to move to United States figured that Monterey Park would provide the idea of the wonderful slice of the American dream rooted in the single family home of the suburbs.

So from that moment, as demand, particularly among Chinese from Hong Kong and Taiwan, grew in Monterey Park, they start to settle in the surrounding neighborhoods and cities in towns like San Marino, Arcadia, and so forth. As the housing stock became more and more limited there going into the mid 1980s and beyond; a lot of Chinese immigrants in particular, along with Koreans and Filipino Americans started to look more east where housing stock was brand new.

There were these large swaths of land that developers were buying and then of course building. For a lot of Asian immigrants who wanted that piece of the American Dream embedded in the suburban single family home, these tract housing developments were very appealing because again, they were brand new. They were affordable at the time for a lot of families, middle income families in particular. And in many ways were places that had reputations as being safe and also had reputations for having good schools or access to good public schools.

So there was that appeal…that, coupled with the fact that by the late 80s, and into the 1990s and 2000s. You had a lot of these Trans Pacific import export companies set up shop in the East San Gabriel Valley as well. So, for a lot of folks who live in the Central Valley people know the City of Industry and how the way the City of Industry plays a large role in not only being a center of commerce and literal industry, but also for jobs. And so a lot of, again, particularly East Asian immigrants were setting up shop there, building their companies from the City of Industry and surrounding towns.

A lot of them lived nearby, which is of course places like Diamond Bar and Rowland Heights and Hacienda Heights that became over time these centers of Asian America. And so you start to see businesses open up along Colima along the valley. These are very familiar thoroughfares for people who live in the San Gabriel Valley, particularly on the east side. So that’s in many ways. There was a perfect storm, if you will, that attracted Asian immigrants to the East San Gabriel Valley and as such, you know, by the early 21st century by the year 2000.

You have these majority Asian suburbs or suburbs with Asian pluralities that were once, 30 years before that, majority white. That’s a stark change of demographics and local culture. Within that span of a few decades.

CG : You say these immigrants took a lot of criticism from their new white neighbors. What was that over?

JZ : Oftentimes, it was culture clashes. So for example, when I did the research on this book, I conducted about 50 oral history interviews with folks across racial lines across age and generation and in terms of also when they’ve lived there. They’ve lived there for at least for a couple of decades when I interviewed these folks.

The common theme that I kept hearing from particularly white residents, was concerns about around assimilation; ideas that if you’re an immigrant that you’re supposed to assimilate and drop these ethnic ties. That includes language. One of the things that I kept hearing in terms of criticism was, Asian immigrants speaking their native tongue. So “I’m finding it offensive to hear, you know, Tagalog heard in a hospital setting” or the, you know, the rise of Chinese language schools.

That they felt were in some ways railing against assimilation. Or aesthetics and design that was another contentious area. In the book, I have a chapter devoted to religious spaces and retail centers. One example that was particularly controversial was Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, which, for a lot of people who live in the San Gabriel Valley is a cultural landmark.

When that was built you had some white residents, and I want to be careful because I don’t want to say all or majority, but he had a very strong community of white residents who believe that the design of the temple was antithetical to suburban norms. That it was “too Asian” that it was “too exotic” and that in many ways it marred the idea of suburban living and it was disruptive to the idea of country living.

And so that was a very drawn out process for it to be built. There was a lot of dialogue between white critics and Buddhists, who tried to educate each other. And thankfully there wasn’t accord, right? There was a there was a resolution met. But it didn’t mean that racial tensions or disagreements disappeared after that.

And so I talked a great length about the ways in which there was peacemaking. But of course, there was still a bit of hurt feelings from from both sides. And a lot of the criticism was generated around concerns and of immigrants and nativism; but some of it also was based on just kind of discomfort with change. Broadly speaking, I think for a lot of white residents, who were critical believed that it wasn’t necessarily always rooted in nativism or xenophobia. For them, it was just kind of seeing their world  changed before their eyes and trying to grapple with that change.

So it’s a very complicated story.

And I think, you know, oftentimes when we talk about race relations and, and difference, and diversity, there’s often an assumption that it’s that it was constantly about insiders versus outsiders, or white versus non white. Yes, that’s absolutely the case in many ways; but there were also from what I gather from the research, just a lot of learning to have been done on both sides. eventually getting to some sense of resolution.

CG : Well, for a moment, let’s make things a little more tense and hone in on that push and pull on Colima road.

JZ : Well, so another controversial area, as you mentioned here was signage on Colima and other streets like Valley Boulevard. Throughout the 1990s, actually even before that, but throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s the rise of Asian ethnic retail centers, strip malls, shopping centers, and so forth, became another source of controversy. One, because you had a lot of businesses putting up storefront signage, not in English, but in Chinese or Korean or maybe having, you know, kind of two languages as signage. Even then you had some residents, particularly longtime residents, who found the signage changes as visually offensive. They saw it as an example of aesthetic clutter. In other words, they felt that neon signs in Korean or, aesthetics that were so  called you know, “typically Asians.”

To their view, this was a rejection of suburban assimilation, and saw that as a way to retaliate against what it means to be a “mainstream American.” So the stores started to emerge. The signage was not often in English, or if it was again, it was was alongside another language. And then on top of that, as as the Asian population increases, you also start to see white owned businesses and shops or mainstream American businesses replaced with Asian businesses.

So, among the many conversations I had with residents who’ve lived in the valley since the 1960s, 70s, 80s. They found it difficult to come to terms that the Stater Brothers or the Ralph’s, or the Lucky (if you remember lucky in Southern California), and Alpha Beta were now replaced with a Korean supermarket or a 99 ranch, that the local Italian deli or the bake shop that was owned by a white couple is replaced with a Chinese bakery or a Filipino restaurant. the feeling I got from a lot of the longtime white residents was that they were being pushed out. And that was kind of often the rhetoric that they were using that they were now in many ways they felt that they were being excluded.

And so you have accusations of so called reverse discrimination OR reverse racism, which, for a lot of folks, you know, is is is problematic. And so they, these critics, white critics, started to then use it as a way to say that actually, we as white residents are not being the discriminatory people. their logic was that it was the immigrants who were pushing these ideas of anti assimilation and exclusion. So it became this very complicated, messy story of who belongs and who doesn’t.

And when people of color occupy spaces that are historically seen as not for them in other words, suburbs; then you have these really raw and and complex interactions and oftentimes very tense and unfortunately ones that that ended in a range of discriminatory behavior. And so the storefronts that are opening across the valley, especially in the East San Gabriel Valley, like parts of Rowland Heights and Hacienda Heights in the 1980s 1990s.

Those businesses, as innocuous as it may seem, as just stores became sites of politicization and in some way, some ways radicalization from more conservative folks who felt that they needed to take back their community from immigrants who they felt were marring the image and the aesthetics and ideals of suburban living.

CG : Now speaking of who may belong and who may not. Every time there’s a major development project mentioned in this book, like opening up Grand Avenue to Chino Hills or the building of a dump, or a potential NFL stadium; there’s always this resident response of this is going to bring in “outsiders”. Now what’s really meant in that worry about “outsiders.”

JZ : So in the book, this is again why it’s so multi layered. In communities like Walnut and Diamond Bar, which are more upper middle class, affluent suburbs in contrast to its neighbors like Hacienda Heights or Rowland Heights; you had white homeowners who were hesitant, if not vocally opposed to new development from stadiums to landfills to shopping centers.

But you also had a unique alliance occurring between them and Asian immigrants, particularly more affluent ones, who really did buy into the idea that in country living suburbia in the East San Gabriel Valley, that their spaces their zones of commerce and retail should look and feel a certain type of way. In other words, it has to be affluent, it has to be posh, it has to be manicured, and it has to reflect the class or class interests or sensibilities of its residents.

CG : Just to clarify, just to clarify here, James; we’re not strictly referring to Colima Road anymore. We’re talking about more master planned, shopping districts in places like Diamond Bar in places like Walnut in Chino Hills.

JZ : Exactly. And it’s in those communities where the resistance is coming strongly from again, not only white residents, but also now Asian immigrants. So this is again where the story is very complicated throughout the late 20th century in the East San Gabriel Valley.

On the one hand, you have Asian immigrants who are being discriminated or being criticized for so-called changing the suburbs, by putting Buddhist temples and Chinese supermarkets and Filipino bakeries. But then on the other hand, Asian immigrants are positioned by the same critics sometimes as good neighbors. People who are who are on their side when it comes to resisting things like the NFL stadium or a large apartment complex that would, you know, bring a lot of renters into the community or a landfill which supposedly again doesn’t have a place in these well to do communities and should be in in more working class parts of the valley.

So that’s where the strange bedfellows parts comes into the conversation because you have this relationship that is present at times and fractured at other times. This is what you found in places like Walnit and Diamond Bar where they kind of stood in this vein in terms of Asian Americans stood in this kind of middle space between good neighbors and bad neighbors. With Class playing a large part in all of this.

CG: Why did these towns have such contentious incorporation battles?

JZ: So, the incorporation debates which are actually still someone occurring in Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights in particular, a lot of it was based on, well, a couple of things. First was the concern that if, for example, Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights didn’t incorporate that development would, you know, run amok, right that it would just keep growing like you’re gonna have more houses and more apartment buildings and more retail centers, therefore making the suburbs more urban like and form and therefore bringing more traffic, more density, and to them that was to a lot of residents that was, you know, not the point of living there, right?

When they moved to these communities, they felt that they were getting a slice of suburbia, or, again, more pointedly the idea that they were living in the LA countryside, right, the frontier of LA County. So you have that aspect. So they felt that incorporation was necessary to curb development.

As the 1980s and 1990s rolls on, there were concerns about the demographic changes of the San Gabriel Valley, particularly the influx of Asian immigrants. And as such, what you found was efforts by some residents to incorporate to not only stop development, but also to stop a particular type of development. So, for example, the Hsi Lai Temple was seen again as this example of, you know, if we open this or allow this to happen, you know, then more people will come and by more people they’re saying, oftentimes, referring to immigrants or Asian immigrants.

So there were certain factions within the pro incorporation movements of the 80s and 90s. And even before that, that were trying to do these two things, as places like Roland Heights and Hacienda Heights became more ethnically diverse and racially diverse, particularly a growing population of of Chinese immigrants, then you start to see actually people resisting incorporation. Some people saying that incorporation would would actually make these communities more you know, in line with the so called cultures and aesthetics of Asia, sometimes that people would say something along those lines, and they fear that actually incorporation would then concretize and solidify this idea of Rowland Heights and Hacienda Heights as these Asian suburbs, so to speak. So it became, you know, this kind of back and forth right like this kind of ongoing kind of sports battle between whether or not incorporation was appropriate for their community.

Similarly, you had incorporation battles in Diamond Bar, where it was less racialized in the case of Diamond Bar, but it was more about this idea of protecting Diamond Bar country living. Similarly in Chino Hills when it incorporated in 1991. People who were living Chino Hills felt that they needed to become their own city, to you know, so called take control right of their own community and that they, you know, were able to in some ways, you know, as these so called pioneers of, of the suburbs of Chino Valley that, you know, it was up to them. They were the makers of their own destiny. So it’s borrowing a lot from this kind of rhetoric and discourse of manifest destiny and westward expansion and the kind of pioneer culture that you know, we have control, right, that we should have control, not the county, not other officials you know who lived miles and miles away from their community, but the homeowners in particular themselves who who they felt should have control over their destiny as they often said in these incorporation campaigns. So that’s what was occurring in in places like Diamond Bar in Chino Hills where there was a lot of this western logic used to push for cityhood.

And again, in contrast, Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights, you heard some of that, but in those cases, oftentimes some of those debates had, if you will, moments around and discussions around, you know, the demographic shifts to the community and often using kind of colorblind or race blind logic to try to make those cases when for a lot of Asian immigrants, the subtext was clear that incorporation concerns whether it was pro or anti, sometimes had to do with the fact that there were white critics who felt that either direction it could, quote, unquote, harm, right the the kind of mainstream Anglo Euro American culture and feel of the suburbs.

CG: Now these cities have had a growing number of Asian American political leaders for decades. How has that changed the climate, if anything?

JZ: So in the 1990s and 2000s, you had a wave of Asian immigrants and Asian Americans who were elected into office so that includes you know, city councils, school boards, and so forth, some even elected into Congress. So, Jay Kim, who was elected to serve parts of the San Gabriel Valley in Congress was kind of the more prominent examples, and their role in these communities as Asian American elected officials, you know, they now have a seat at the table, but interestingly enough, a lot of them didn’t necessarily lean in, so to speak on always, you know, addressing the concerns of the Asian American constituencies that help elect them into office and that’s not to say that, that you know, if you’re Asian American that you only serve Asian American constituents, but for a lot of Asian Americans, what they noticed is that they often aligned with, in particular, kind of the political platforms of the right that were popular in the 90s and 2000s.

So a lot of Asian American elected officials, allied with oftentimes white residents who had, for example, criticisms around taxation and wanted low taxes that were pro business, maybe had, you know, critiques about, you know, the so called illegal immigration that was a hot topic throughout the 90s. That even you know, had you saw Asian Americans, some of them immigrant immigrants themselves, who also may be aligned with things like English only policies that was also a very hot button issue in the 80s and 90s.

And so I bring these up as examples because, you know, here you have examples of, of Asian American and immigrant conservatism that felt particularly strong in the suburbs, but particularly this part of the San Gabriel Valley where in contrast to the West San Gabriel Valley, you have there historically, you know, more prominent liberal Asian American figures who challenged in many ways, the kind of conservative platforms that their colleagues were, you know, holding on to on the East San Gabriel Valley.

And so, that, that, in many ways is is a fascinating story in itself, where you have Asian Americans, you know, across the San Gabriel Valley, but they had different ideologies, and it seems that the West San Gabriel Valley, they lean left and in the East San Gabriel Valley they lean right. And arguably, that’s partly because of geographically where the East San Gabriel Valley is located. It is really, truly touching, you know, two counties it’s touching San Bernardino County and Orange County, both counties that have historically been, you know, quote, unquote, red counties for many years.

And that inland location coupled with the region’s kind of historic reputation, you know, reputation as a conservative bastion is partly one of the reasons why you have Asian immigrants also, you know, in many ways, following the political norms of the region. So again, it’s it’s an interesting story where you have Asian immigrants going against the norms of suburbia and so called Euro American mainstream culture. But on the other hand, you also see a lot of them resisting some of that,

CG: Now, some amount of white flight has taken place in the east valley specifically in these communities that have Asianized, as you say in the book. Does this old guard contingent — do specific members of that group — still hold influence on those cities? And do we see any amount of disinvestment that we usually see with white flight in communities say like South Central or Boyle Heights?

JZ: Yeah, the old guard so to speak of these communities like walnut and Diamond Bar, are still living in the region, although of course, there are less of them. And one of the common themes that you hear is how when those families who may be settled there in the years following World War Two, let’s say the 1950s 60s 70s, you know, once their children grow up, maybe their children would, you know, live in the community and take over their home, but many of them didn’t, right.

And so once they left, then those houses it would be replaced oftentimes with, you know, younger families and oftentimes Asian immigrants and so the old guard that’s still there today is, you know, again, a smaller minority of the population, and they still hold some weight in terms of local politics.

A lot of them are still people who are keeping in touch, remain in touch with, you know, local policies around design, new developments that are being proposed. And even if they’re not around, or if they’re less active, it’s the old guard that so called, you know, politically groomed the new generations of of these towns leaders, and that includes Asian immigrants.

So one of the things I talk about in the book is the way in which again, the strange bedfellows instance here or metaphor matters here because you have white critics who maybe were resisting or maybe were concerned with Asian immigrants and how they’re changing the suburbs simultaneously kind of shepherding them through civic life. And, as such, they in some ways, kind of passed on their political ideologies and views onto the next generation. And so in other words, while the face of its leaders are less white today and less you know, baby boomer or even before baby boomer, they, you know, they they’re still very much a lot of them, hold on to the beliefs that their communities, these suburbs, should try to be as low density as possible, should be, you know, quote unquote, mainstream as possible.

In other words, you know, abiding by the the Civic codes or, or rules of the city that say that you can’t have, you know, Chinese language as the, you know, the predominant language on the sign or they still hold on to these beliefs that you know, if we’re going to build a residential, you know, housing complex that, you know, there’s only you know, so many stories that can be built and so many units that can be there and the requirements that are there are, you know, made to be where the residents of those spaces reflect the so called, you know, the typical demographics of those communities.

In other words, what I’m getting at here is that even though the old guard may not be physically there anymore, the old guards, views and so called belief system of how the suburbs should be governed still live on today. And so now you have people who are in their 40s or 50s, even younger, some of these towns have elected officials in their 30s who are upholding those ideas and ideals of previous generations.

CG: Yeah, so like you describe it in the book: “frozen in time…”

JZ: Yeah, and in many ways, upholding again, the idea of country living and this is where it goes back to the center of this idea that in many ways, even though the suburbs in the East San Gabriel Valley are full fledged suburbs, very dense, very much urbanized, maybe not urban, but they’re urbanized, a lot of them like to believe that these are kind of rural preserves, or suburban preserves, and that the politics should reflect you know, those ideas and to protect the idea of, you know, the kind of pristine, manicured, masterplanned community.

CG: So why did you write this book?

JZ: I wrote this book for a few reasons. One is is for you know, selfishly, I was born and raised in the area. And I felt that in the academic scholarship of Southern California, hardly anyone was talking about the East San Gabriel Valley, even the millions of people live in the San Gabriel Valley. And I always found that to be a gap in the scholarship and the research and the narratives of, you know, of, of Southern California history broadly speaking, but especially San Gabriel Valley, especially greater LA. And for me, I found it to be you know, again, on the one hand, a personal reason that motivated me, but also a professional reason, as a scholar, as a historian, as a professor who wants to, you know, to contribute to the body of knowledge out there around American history, but specifically in this case, the history of greater LA.

Secondly, part of it and it’s related to personal and professional reasons, when I left high school — which was I went to high school in La Puente at Nogales High School, for those who know the region — when I went to college in Washington, DC, it was there where I actually started to truly understand the so called typical suburb. You know, the types of suburban communities and single family homes that you saw on television when you grew up right watching those classic TV shows like Leave It to Beaver or the Brady Bunch or-

CG: Or even Back to the Future.

JZ: Or Back to the Future. Exactly. Which again, is as if you read in the book that it was shot at Puente Hills Mall. So and when I was living in DC I would, you know, just being a curious person who loves you know, kind of wandering a little bit, I would go to the suburbs of DC, so throughout Maryland and Virginia, and I’m like, these are the suburbs that you know, demographically and aesthetically, were the kind of so-called you know, model suburb, right, that people often think about the American popular culture.

By the way, American popular culture that is globalized and disseminated around the world. And so a lot of these immigrants that I talk about in the book and I interviewed for the book, they would say that in Hong Kong in Taiwan and the Philippines and South Korea, wherever they’re coming from, they would watch American movies and TV shows and listen to American music and read American books that glorify this idea of the American suburb, right. And so anyway, going back to what motivated me to write this book, you know.

I felt that the San Gabriel Valley was both every day and unusual at the same time, that it is truly, the San Gabriel valley, a cluster of a lot of suburban homes and strip malls, and churches and temples that are very, you know, typical of the American suburb, but it’s also highly unusual in the sense that you have these these so called ethnoburbs and pockets of Latinx settlement and pockets of of Asian immigrants and and other communities that live you know, amongst each other beside each other coexist that differ that disagree or maybe align and ally.

And that to me was the more interesting story about and reason why I want to write this book is because, in some ways, you know, the San Gabriel Valley is its own type of suburban community. And you know, when I decided to become a professor and become a historian, it was very clear to me that my first book had to be about the San Gabriel Valley. It wasn’t necessarily just because I grew up there, but it was also because there’s a story here about American urban and suburban growth. There’s a story here about the range of immigrant experiences.

There’s a story here about how you know of what happens, right when, when people of color now have access to and build communities in the suburbs, places that have historically been denied to them or seen as not their place, so to speak. You know, and ultimately, this book, you know, speaks to those questions, these broader questions about what is the suburb, right? What does that mean? How does it look? How does it feel who belongs there who doesn’t? What happens when you know these so called, you know, cultural outsiders then become part of the insiders, right, and so forth. And so, you know, resisting change in suburbia, hopefully, you know, gives us some insights as to this not necessarily just being a story about the San Gabriel Valley but really, truly being a story about the history of Southern California’s growth. And what we mean by when we say American suburbs.

CG: Okay, before we go, I want to get a personal take because in the book, you’re, you know, you’re pretty hands off, you’re reporting academically, but we hear a lot about generalized values in the East San Gabriel Valley for Asian residents of conservatism, preserving privilege, not wanting to rock the boat. But growing up there, this is your chance to say something really biting or really loving, or both. What did you see as the local personality of the region?

JZ: Oh, gosh, that’s a really good question. What’s the local personality of the region? Um, gosh, um, you know, I think there’s, I don’t know if there’s a phrase I could use here to describe the local personality. But to me when I think of the East San Gabriel Valley today, I think of it as a place that is, I would describe as somewhere in between, I’ll just say that. And what I mean by that is to say it’s that it’s a place that likes to uphold the idea that they are, you know, these typical manicured you know, suburbs, but on the other hand, they are also very cosmopolitan.

And I think people, a lot of people forget that, that actually, a lot of these communities have, you know, people, residents, businesses that are globally internationally tied. So when I say it’s in between that reflects not only the businesses and the landscapes there, but the people who are there they are simultaneously just every day, you know, Southern Californians, you know, who, you know, who lived their lives, work, you know, socialize in the communities and are civically engaged, but at the same time, they’re also very worldly. Having truly international ties you know, with people in Latin America and cultures and people in Asia and so forth.

And so, I want to say that in many ways people of the East San Gabriel Valley are people who, who are in many ways, very transnational figures and are in these kind of in between – constantly in between America and especially if they’re immigrants or families of immigrants, you know, also living culturally with their their ethnic heritage. And so that’s to me, you know, very much typical of the everyday East San Gabriel Valley resident.

CG: James Zarsadiaz Is the author of Resisting Change in Suburbia: Asian Immigrants and Frontier Nostalgia in L.A. Where should people buy that?

JZ: Well, you can get it through many places: through University of California Press, ideally. And you can of course, get it through your local independent bookseller and certainly anywhere on the internet. It’s available through Amazon, through Target, through Barnes and Noble. Pretty much virtually anywhere. So, you know, please pick up the book, especially if you are a resident of the San Gabriel Valley or have ties to the valley. I’m sure it’ll add a little bit more dimension and complexity to understanding the history of the region and you know, why our communities are the way they are and how they have weathered through many storms

CG: That they will. Thanks so much for coming on SGV Connect, James.

JZ: Thanks for having me.