What’s Good for George Sánchez Is Good for Boyle Heights: Regenerative Scholarship, Urban Racism, Gentrification, and <i>East LA Interchange</i>

  • Gilbert Estrada Temple University Press


The inclusive ideals of George Sánchez have helped shape a new generation of academics who have promoted connections with nonacademic organizations. This article discusses how Sánchez has continued these efforts through his pivotal contributions to an award-winning documentary focusing on the multiethnic, working-class community of Boyle Heights: Betsy Kalin’s film East LA Interchange (2015). East LA Interchange’s greatest contribution to the generative scholarship Sánchez emphasizes is its critical analysis of modern urban problems, utilizing history as a tool for social change. The story of Boyle Heights is not just a history of a single working-class community with a diverse culture. It is also a tale of a neighborhood trying to solve real world problems such as gentrification, unaffordable housing, community displacement, and urban pollution. The film portrays these difficulties in the present while showing that they originated decades ago. Sánchez and East LA Interchange are at their best when they provide the historical contexts of contemporary problems, emphasizing that history is not only the study of the past. Rather, history is the unending dialogue between the past, present, and future, and any significant discourse on today’s urban ills must be rooted in the past. For students and others interested in the diverse communities common in many US metropolitan regions, East LA Interchange has much to offer regarding the issues of immigration, redlining, deed restrictions, political activism, freeway construction, living with racially and ethnically diverse community members, and the nationwide problem of gentrification. These themes, especially gentrification, are the primary focus of this article.