RIP Peter Kwong, Who Chronicled Chinatown, Drugs, and Race For The Voice


Peter Kwong, professor at the City University of New York, pioneer in Asian American studies, author of numerous books about Chinatowns, Chinese immigration, and Chinese politics, died last week at the age of 75. For more than a decade beginning in the 1980s, Kwong was also a frequent contributor to the Village Voice, often writing with his wife Dusanka Miscevic, herself a China scholar. Unfortunately, with the exception of a smart and devastating book review from 2000, most of that work predates the Voice’s publication online, and isn’t publicly available.

That’s a shame, because Kwong’s work for the Voice was brilliant. If you’re willing to bear with the images from the Voice archive, inexpertly reproduced below, you can read two of his most compelling pieces for the paper: an investigation of the growing control of the heroin trade by Chinese organized crime, and an argument that contemporary media reports fundamentally misunderstood the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 as a “Black vs. White” phenomenon, when in fact what had happened was “the first multiractial class riot in American history.”

First, from the July 17, 1990 issue, “The Year of the Horse”:






And then, from the June 9, 1992 issue, “The First Multicultural Riots”: