How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

A week’s worth of reactions to the House hearings on Islam

Photo by waltarrrrr/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A view of the King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, CA, November 2009

The news of last Friday's earthquake in Japan all but obscured what had been some of the biggest news of the previous day, the first hearing of a planned series in the House Committee on Homeland Security on the “extent of radicalization” among American Muslims, led by committee chair and New York Republican Rep. Peter King.

Muslim groups and other minority organizations condemned the hearings as xenophobic; King defended them as “absolutely essential.” Prior to the first hearing March 10 (the next one has not been scheduled), KPCC’s Public Insight Network sent out a series of questions to members of its audience, inviting Muslims and people of all faiths to share their take on the hearings.

By last Friday morning, the House hearing had quickly fallen off the news radar, but people continued to respond. The majority were Muslim, though Christian and Jewish respondents answered the questions as well. Here are some excerpts from their responses.

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Giant Robot, others join Japan quake relief efforts

Photo by misocrazy/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The Giant Robot store sign on Sawtelle Boulevard, September 2006

The Asian American pop culture emporium Giant Robot has added its name to a growing list of businesses and Japanese American groups in Los Angeles who are mounting efforts to raise money for earthquake relief in Japan.

The franchise, which owns galleries, a restaurant and shops in L.A. and San Francisco, has teamed up with UNICEF to raise funds via an art show at its GR2 store in West Los Angeles, which among other things sells Japanese toys, comic books, magazines and art.

The opening reception is Saturday night. The "Water Works" art show, planned prior to last Friday's devastating 9 magnitude quake in northeastern Japan, was to have promoted UNICEF’s mission to provide clean drinking water to children around the world. The event has now been re-engineered for quake and tsunami relief.

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Star-crossed: Love in a cross-status relationship

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A contributor to the Being Latino blog recently published a candid first-person essay about her relationship with her partner and the father of her child, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala who was deported two years ago.

Nancy Sepulveda wrote:

That was two years and a thousand tears ago. Hours spent scavenging the Internet for immigration information. Wrestling with the idea of moving my children to a third-world country (Guatemala) and sacrificing reliable education and health-care systems, my own fledgling career, and the comparative safety of American life, to reunify our family. The heartache of knowing a separation of thousands of miles and a vicious border meant other romantic interests would inevitably be pursued. Our official breakup, and inability even now to stop the desperate I still love you’s whispered across endless coils of phone line.

I admit we played a role in creating our own tragedy. He chose to come here paperless and I “chose” to love him, and at every subsequent fork in the road we went the wrong way. Why didn’t we get married before he was picked up? I was a college student dependent on financial aid and didn’t want to jeopardize it by including his spousal income. I graduated two months before he was detained.

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Report finds educational disparities between Asian, Hawaiian, Pacific Islander subgroups

Photo by backonthebus/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A new report reveals wide gaps in the educational achievements of different Asian ethnic groups in California, with big disparities between Asian-American, Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students.

From a story today by KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez:

For one Asian-American subgroup, the Hmong of Southeast Asia, the idea that all Asians are academic high achievers is a dangerous myth. Nearly half of Hmong adults don’t have a high school diploma.

It’s dangerous, says University of California researcher Lois Takahashi, because the myth keeps the struggles of Hmong families out of the policymaking spotlight. She says statistics about the much larger Samoan, Guamanian and Tongan populations in California are just as troubling.

"One fifth of Pacific Islanders in our grades 9-12 are expected to drop out by grade 12," Takahashi said. "That’s very similar and almost equivalent to the dropout rate for Latinos in the state."

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