How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Love, L.A. style: Mom, Dad, I'm dating an odar

Photo by qthomasbowe/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A great word came up last night during a lively public talk at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum, where I moderated a panel on interracial and interethnic relationships. And while its origin is Armenian, it wound up a part of the conversation among all the couples there.

One of the panelists, novelist Aris Janigian, brought it up first. He's Armenian American; his wife, InSun, is the daughter of Korean immigrants. When it was time to tell his mother about her, he had to break the news that his beloved was an odar, an Armenian term that sounds curiously like "other," which is more or less what it means. And after he told his story, other panelists began applying it to their own stories with their partners: the non-black odar wife, the non-Latino odar husband, and so forth.

Many cultures have terms to describe outsiders, but since odar is the word of the moment, Multi-American contributor Lory Tatoulian has kindly provided us with an extended definition: