How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

'Undocumented Apparel' takes on hipsters, privilege, and a controversial fashion ad

The beyond-hip Los Angeles clothing company American Apparel has long enjoyed a good measure of respect from the immigrant rights movement for its activism, notably the Legalize L.A. campaign. One might even say that its legally embattled CEO, Dov Charney, earned some street cred after the Obama administration audited the compañia rebelde (as a banner on its L.A. factory proclaims) in 2009 and made him fire 1,800 employees for lack of work authorization.

But there's that saying about roads paved with good intentions, and it was exemplified recently by one American Apparel ad that, well, took a turn south. The ad showed a tall, thin young blond woman posing with a "California farmer," i.e. a dark-skinned Latino in work attire and cowboy hat.

The ad triggered a spate of criticism that at best has been along the lines of ugh-this-is-what-happens-when-well-intended-white-liberals-go-too-far, or something like that. It's also prompted groans over the use of immigrant workers as marketing props, not good either.


Report: Latinos are more LGBT tolerant than we think

As conventional wisdom goes, Latinos are not the most tolerant group when it comes to accepting homosexuality. But this is more perception than reality, a new report says.

The National Council of La Raza and Social Science Research Solutions, a public opinion research firm, have released a survey suggesting that Latinos are not as unaccepting of LGBT peers or even of same-sex marriage as perceived to be, although those who are deeply religious are less tolerant, similar to the general population. And surprisingly, while the acculturation level of immigrants are plays a part, the level of tolerance doesn't vary so much between first-generation immigrants and U.S.-born Latinos. From the report:

With regard to support for legal gay marriage, Gallup has been tracking support within the overall U.S. population since 1996. They most recently found that 53 percent of Americans support legal gay 0% marriage. This compares quite nicely with our data on Hispanics, for whom 54 percent offered their support.

We found strong support for other policies as well in our data. Sixty-four percent of Latinos support civil unions. No less than 83 percent of Latinos support legal protections for hate crimes, job discrimination, housing discrimination, as well as support for healthcare and pension benefits for gay and lesbian couples. Over three out of four (78 %) support open military service.