How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Posts of the week: The murder of an Iraqi American, the meaning Sa-i-Gu, what defines the 1.5 generation, more

Photo by K W Reinsch/Flickr (Creative Commons)


The discussion on Multi-American this week has ranged from the repercussions of a tragic murder in a Southern California Iraqi immigrant community to the nuances that define immigrants who arrive in the U.S. at an early age. That, and how the 1992 Los Angeles riots, whose 20th anniversary is in less than a month, left such an imprint on Korean Americans that there's a special term for the date on which the riots began.

It's been an interesting week. In case you missed any of the top posts, here are a few.

Monday

'We are not the terrorists. You are.' In a video that's at times difficult to watch, the grieving daughter of murdered Iraqi American mother of five Shaima Alawadi defiantly addresses the note she said was found next to her badly beaten mother, reading something along the lines of "go back to your country, you terrorist." Police are investigating the murder in El Cajon, near San Diego, as a possible hate crime but have yet to draw a definite conclusion.

Tuesday

'A generation in the interstices...of two societies and cultures' A prelude post to a discussion on the 1.5 generation, immigrants who arrived as children and adolescents, that took place last Tuesday night at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum. As one 1988 piece describes them, these young immigrants are "in many ways marginal to both the new and old worlds, for while they straddle both worlds they are in some profound sense fully part of neither of them."

Wednesday

The cultural mashup dictionary: Sa-i-Gu Next April 29 will mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which started after a jury acquitted four L.A. police officers accused of beating Rodney King, a black motorist. One of the epicenters of the violence was Koreatown, where many Korean immigrant shop owners lost everything as buildings burned and stores were looted. Out if this came the term Sai-i-Gu, often referred to as simply saigu, which translates to “April 29.”

Thursday

'A different kind of consciousness': On what defines the 1.5 generation One of several highlights from Tuesday night's panel on the 1.5 generation, with a link to audio. During the panel, UCLA professor, panelist and 1.5 generation Salvadoran American Leisy Abrego talked abut one of the characteristics of 1.5ers: An awareness of the immigrant struggle that is internalized, even as children, and sets them apart from their second-generation peers.

Friday

Hate crime or not, why the killing of Shaima Alawadi carries special weight While authorities investigate the murder of Shiama Alawadi, brutally beaten and found next to a hate note in her El Cajon, Calif. home, the crime has resonated internationally. It comes during a time when Muslims and Arab Americans are feeling particularly under siege in light of rising hate incidents, congressional hearings on Islam and a high-profile police spying case in New York. In a Q&A, Salam Al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles explains the dynamics.

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