Drawing from a deep well of personal experience as a Black American, Clinton Galloway’s recently released What Did You Think Was Going to Happen? The Betrayal of South Central examines the 1985 United States Supreme Court case City of Los Angeles v. Preferred Communications, and uses it as a backdrop for discussing broader injustice.
The court case, taking place some forty years ago, is a painful illustration of how little has changed for the residents of South Central Los Angeles. In a decade-long fight about access to cable television, the community faced repeated setbacks, racism, and dismissal, finally winning in the Supreme Court and being awarded an insulting $1 in damages.
Over the course of his book, Galloway connects the dots between technology denial and basic constitutional rights, and uncovers in great detail the process of betrayal, ambivalence, and racism that created the situation in South Central Los Angeles, as well as similar conditions across the country.
What Did You Think Was Going to Happen is Galloway’s second book on the subject, a follow up to 2012’s “Anatomy of a Hustle: Cable Comes to South Central Los Angeles.” This work goes beyond the specifics of the court case and looks at the myriad social factors contributing to systemic racism and poverty. Not only does the author bring a critical examination of Black Americans in positions of power (particularly political leaders), he also provides valuable recommendations about how they could better serve their constituents and work to prevent cases like City of Los Angeles v. Preferred Communications from continuing to happen.
As much a history lesson as an examination of a particular event, Galloway deftly frames his experiences (and those of people in his community) in the larger context of American history, particularly Black American history. He shows the connections between local government and media monopolies, and how those monopolies can be weaponized against marginalized members of society – a trend that did not begin in South Central and continues across the country decades later. Galloway names the players in his specific experience, and shows the context in which such events are allowed to happen.
By examining City of Los Angeles v. Preferred Communications from this variety of perspectives, we begin to see a clear picture of how government, prejudice, media, socioeconomic barriers, and segregation coalesce. This particular court case, and the very real experiences it represents, is a snapshot of the injustices happening throughout America that have gone largely ignored for decades. By sharing this story, the author sheds light on systemic racism, the collusion and corruption that helps keep such systems in place, and ways to fight back against it.
Tied to the present, we see that not nearly enough has changed since the 1980s and 1990s. The author again provides a nuanced view of the many challenges facing Black Americans through the lens of his own experiences, and by doing so, offers ways to pursue meaningful change. This is a story for all Americans.
To purchase the book, go to https://www.amazon.com/What-Did-Think-Going-Happen/dp/1735707600/.