How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

South LA's film students (Video)

The Urban Oasis Film Academy teaches the art of filmmaking to teens in South Los Angeles, allowing them to make films that have gone on to win awards and landed jobs for some in the film industry. Videographer Katherine Sheehan interviewed several of the students and instructors for KPCC, including a couple of boys who documented their crosstown trip from South L.A. to Santa Monica, contemplating the socioeconomic and culture divide between the two sides of the city. "It's beautiful out here," one boy said once at the beach, "but it's not for us."

The academy is a partnership between HBO and the Youth Mentoring Connection. A few of the students' films can be seen here.


American snapshot: South L.A.

Leslie Berestein Rojas?KPCC

One of a few competing pool vendors on Florence Avenue, July 7, 2011

Summers are hot in the dense Florence district of South Los Angeles, where there is very little green space. One solution, as some wise merchants know, is small inflatable wading pools that can fit in a compact backyard or an apartment complex, allowing overheated kids to keep cool.

Three different vendors compete for business along a busy strip of Florence Avenue just west of the 110 Freeway, crowding the sidewalk with their bright inflatable pools.


On Los Angeles as an 'Arrival City'

Photo by Keith Skelton/Flickr (Creative Commons)

En route to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention from LAX to Orlando yesterday, I had a chance to read part of "Arrival City," a book by British journalist Doug Saunders that tells the story of worldwide migration through an exploration of the cities that have been transformed by it.

Not surprisingly, Los Angeles plays a prominent role. In one chapter, Saunders chronicles the transformation of a part of the West Adams neighborhood by migrants from Central America, many of them former neighbors from the same rural villages in El Salvador.

He tracks a Salvadoran-born small business owner’s rise from newly-arrived day laborer in the early 1990s to the founding and growth of his successful sign-making shop, while telling the greater story of the demographic and economic shifts in South Los Angeles since the 1992 riots.


20 years after the Rodney King beating: Different takes on what's changed, what hasn't

It's been 20 years today since the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers, an incident captured on grainy video by George Holliday, a resident of Lake View Terrace who heard the commotion and captured the beating from his balcony.

The videotape, and the riots that followed in late April after four white officers accused in the beating were acquitted, tore the lid off long-simmering racial and socioeconomic tensions in South Los Angeles and other working-class sections of the city. It also created a national conversation about the treatment of minority groups at the hands of authorities.

Just about every news outlet today has a take on the 20th anniversary of the beating, ranging from interviews with King, who suffered serious injuries and later sued, to explorations of how police conduct business in an era where cameras are omnipresent. A sampling: