How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Angelenos/Angeleños speak out on who they are

In a brief post yesterday, I mentioned that I'll be moderating a panel next week at KPCC titled "Angelino, Angeleno, Angeleño: Who are we?"

It's going to be a discussion on the evolving identity of Los Angeles, based on a popular post on the KCET website a couple of months ago by author D.J. Waldie about the disappearance of the Spanish consonant ñ (pronounced “enye”) from "Angeleños," the original Spanish term for city residents.

I threw out a few questions yesterday: What is an Angeleno today? How does the culture we were raised in, and the part of the L.A. area we call home, shape how we define ourselves? In great polyglot Los Angeles of the 21st Century, do we still define ourselves geography, by area code, by ethnicity?

On KPCC's Facebook page, several readers shared their thoughts. A particular line from one of the readers below resonated: "Angelenos are all a little Mexican, a little Korean, a little Jewish no matter where they're actually from."

Brandon Minikwu wrote:

I like to think Los Angeles/an Angeleno is a perfect portray of american's metro-city identity. All one, whether in Silverlake, Santa Monica, or Pasadena. Angelenos our a cumulation of all in the county. We incorporate little traits of every culture, which makes the individual Angeleno. A mix of all in one.


Gaston Hinostroza wrote:

Angeleño - Its the history mixed with the environment (trad-med weather, access to beach and snow and LOTS of land to roam and grow in, etc), plus the "new start" mindset that has been part of California since before statehood (e.g. the stuff that dreams are made of) and the immigrants that brought and realized (or not) those dreams, that unfolded the culture, that brought about the life style that we call Californio and/or Angeleño.


Tamar Hecker Asken wrote:

Yes, everything Gaston just said (hi Gus!), plus a layering of Hollywood glamour and tragedy, the romance of LA noire novels, old black ladies eating matzah ball soup at Cantor's, while westside Jews line up at Tito's Tacos. Angelenos are all a little Mexican, a little Korean, a little Jewish no matter where they're actually from. I think we're mostly lefties, and often exceedingly optimistic!


To which Gaston Hinostroza replied:

I move that the record be amended to include everything Tamar just said.


Do these observations ring true? What else makes an Angeleno today? Feel free to post comments below. We're also creating a slide show for the event, so photos of the many L.A.s within L.A. out there are welcome.

The panel takes place next Tuesday, March 29 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at KPCC’s Crawford Family Forum, 474 South Raymond Avenue in Pasadena. My guests will be D.J. Waldie and Eric Avila, an associate professor of Chicano studies, history and urban planning at UCLA.

Here's the link to RSVP.

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