How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Beyond boba and good times in 'the (real) 626'

The region now officially known in local pop culture as "the 626" has become a point of pride for some second-generation Asian Americans, many of them children of Chinese immigrants who grew up in the San Gabriel Valley and have since put their uniquely American cultural stamp on it.

The SGV is celebrated in a wildly popular hip-hop video by The Fung Brothers comedy duo, who were featured today in the Los Angeles Times. But not so fast, says blogger and Calvin Ho of The Plaid Bag Connection, a site that explores Asian diaspora issues and sociology.

As with other pockets of greater Los Angeles laid claim to by or identified with a dominant group (think, for that matter, the socioeconomically diverse 310 area code) the San Gabriel Valley is prone to a "disconnect between the entirety of the area and people indicated by the area code and slim, privileged sections that 'the 626' refers to," Ho writes. More from his post today:

 

The 626 area code goes far beyond the middle class, largely Chinese and Taiwanese ethnoburbs east of Los Angeles, though â??the 626â?³ as a geographic descriptor means those regions exclusively. What about places in area code 626 like Baldwin Park, La Puente, or El Monte, which are largely Latino and working class? What about mostly white Monrovia or San Dimas? Itâ??s not even clear if the regionâ??s big city of Pasadena can claim to be part of â??the 626,â? except perhaps when the 626 Night Market is held there.

â??The 626â?³ is also extremely narrow as a demographic descriptor. I think we can agree that the term refers specifically to youth, so the middle-aged and older do not need to be part of the discussion. Can immigrant youth in â??the 626â?³ claim to be of â??the 626â?³? Can non-Asian residents of â??the 626â?³ claim to be of â??the 626â?³? My sense is no.

Read more at: plaidbag.org

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