How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Posts of the week: An immigrant Marine, how minority kids are punished in school, immigration metaphors and being far from Japan, a year lat

Screen shot from KPCC.org, March 2011


Today marks the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan, from which the country is still reeling. A moving video taken in Los Angeles in the days following the quake is just one of the featured posts this week, along with an analysis of the immigration metaphors used in court and the makings of the "school-to-prison pipeline" for black and Latino kids, who receive the harshest punishment in public schools.

In case you missed any of them, the posts of the week:

Monday

The fight to honor an immigrant Marine Several California lawmakers are trying to convince military officials to reconsider granting a posthumous Medal of Honor, the highest distinction for military service, to Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Peralta. The Mexican-born Marine was a green card holder who was killed in action in Iraq in November 2004. According to his comrades, he was already wounded when he grabbed a grenade that landed near him and smothered it with his body, saving their lives. Their story has been questioned by the Department of Defense, but the new effort cites video evidence.

Tuesday

Why are black and Latino kids punished more in school? A new report from the federal Department of Education that collected data from more than 72,000 schools tracked, among other things, discipline in the nation's public school system. The findings in a nutshell: Black students, especially boys – and to a lesser degree, Latino students – are subject to more suspension, more expulsion, and when they are disabled, more physical restraint than their white peers. A follow-up post Thursday provided additional context regarding the so-called "school-to-prison pipeline."

Wednesday

Floods and invasions: Immigration metaphors in the courts Does the language of the federal court system have an influence on legal outcomes and the broader immigration debate? A fascinating analysis in the Fordham Law Review presents examples of immigration metaphors used in the U.S. Supreme Court, and makes the case that there are social consequences to the word choices we make. The terms for immigrants and immigration used aren't necessarily flattering, with documented references to toxic waste, floods, invasions, attacks and general alienage.

Thursday

It's official: Zumba is not 'Latin dance' Was there ever a question about it? Apparently so. It seems that some folks conflate the popular, Colombian-born style of aerobics set to Latin American rhythms with salsa, according to an NPR story, and this does not make salsa instructors happy. So let's just settle it once and for all: Zumba (officially called "Zumba Fitness") is just that, a fitness program. That said, it's a great time, and sweating it out to the familiar sounds of salsa and merengue definitely beats enduring that grating gym techno.

Friday

Far from Japan, a year later A beautifully shot video taken in the days following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan a year ago this Sunday. It follows Tony Tsukui, the employee of a Japanese company in Southern California, as he despaired in Los Angeles while his wife and children remained in Tokyo. Feeling helpless, he took his guitar to the Venice Beach boardwalk to sing for quake relief donations. The video also features footage from a memorial service held in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo, and links to services this weekend.

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