How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Will Latino-led redevelopment in Santa Ana ultimately rob it of its Latino-ness?

Photo by Joe Wolf/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Fourth Street in downtown Santa Ana, January 2011

Last night I sat in on the live taping of AirTalk's segment today on the gentrification battle in Santa Ana, a city I worked in years ago that's been through some changes since, and is poised for more.

The gist: Plans are afoot to redevelop the Orange County seat's downtown commercial area surrounding Fourth Street, a strip that for years has attracted stores that cater to the city's predominantly Latino residents, most of them immigrants from Mexico and their descendants.

And it's the descendants, it turns out, who are pushing the redevelopment agenda. The city's all-Latino council wants, as one city leader described it yesterday, to "diversify" the mix of businesses downtown, which right now leans toward the mom-and-pop and attracts first-generation customers.

"I want to shop here," said Carlos Bustamante, a city council member and "born and raised" native of Santa Ana, as he described himself. "I don't want to have to leave my city to go buy a suit."

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Cholagate! Reaction, fallout over the identity of 'Ask A Chola'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBXV6rm97yQ

The scandal that has erupted in recent days over the unmasking of video blogger/minor web celeb "Ask A Chola" as, well, not a chola has provoked impassioned reactions from detractors and supporters of the pseudo-chola performance artist. It has also spawned many a discussion about what constitutes art and at what point racial satire becomes offensive, and if there is any leeway at all when it's performed in "brownface."

In a nutshell: The vlogger known as Chola has starred for the past few years in sometimes amusing, sometimes confusing, sometimes slightly disturbing videos that she posts on her website, askachola.com. There she expounds on everything from "chola culture" to Star Wars, pirates, health care and driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants in an a pseudo-Latino/Eastside brogue, her face hidden behind a green bandanna.

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