When news broke this week that former Los Angeles Councilmember Jose Huizar was going to plead guilty to federal racketeering charges for his role in a corruption scandal that rocked Los Angeles politics, I immediately thought of “American Me.”

No, not the overwrought Edward James Olmos movie about the origins of the Mexican Mafia — I’m talking about the long-forgotten book published in 1948 about Mexican American life in and around the Eastside. Author Beatrice Griffith, a social worker in barrios like Happy Valley, Belvedere and Maravilla, penned the best-seller to document the travesty of what she saw: a community of good people cheated out of the good life by racism and charlatans.

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