Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

'I chose to be an Angeleno': An identify forged by immigration, even for a local

The term "Angeleno" refers to a person from Los Angeles, but there are some Angelenos who relate to the term on another level. The best way I can describe it: As a descriptor of a person whose identity is closely tied to a multiethnic city with a complicated past and a complicated present, and whose identity doesn't fit neatly into a cultural box.

The Los Angeles Times' Gregory Rodriguez writes eloquently about this in a piece today that takes in how in spite of his being born in L.A. and having deep California Mexican American roots, he's run the gamut from being thought of as an outsider in his hometown to being thought of as someone who should know more about Latin American politics, although it's not his expertise.

The piece is framed by the evolution of migration from Mexico, which is now at a historic low, and how this has shaped his identity and how he is perceived. In the end, Rodriguez writes, he's "an Angeleno, same as I ever was." An excerpt:

As a kid, of course, some still saw my ethnicity and skin color as signs of my being an outsider. In third grade I was called the "N-word." By the 11th, the haters had wised up and switched to more "accurate" ethnic slurs. There were also incidents outside school, and what they all had in common was that they were committed by white kids who had fewer choices than I did.

Their words stung, but they didn't keep me from being elected class president. As a suburban upper-middle-class kid from an educated family, I pretty much felt I could be what I wanted to be, and I chose to be an Angeleno.

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