How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

How S. 1670 defines racial profiling, and why it's complicated

Photo by No Borders and Binaries/Flickr (Creative Commons)

During what's been billed as a landmark Senate hearing tomorrow, lawmakers will address racial profiling in different forms, from the profiling of Latinos under state anti-illegal immigration laws to the police profiling of black men, as well as the racial profiling that has affected Muslims, Arab Americans and others in the U.S. during a decade of counter-terrorism activity since 9/11.

A highlight of the hearing will be a bill called the End Racial Profiling Act, which has come and gone since 2001 without passage and was most recently reintroduced last year. Its principal aim is to curb profiling by law enforcement, establishing a definition for what racial profiling is, prohibiting it, and establishing a set of policies and checks and balances to prevent it.

From the bill, also known as S. 1670, the definition:


Quote of the moment: A reader to 'those who are angry' over Trayvon Martin

A popular Q&A post last weekend titled "Where race matters in the Trayvon Martin case, and where it doesn't" that examined the complicated role of race in the shooting death of the 17-year-old Florida boy last month drew a long string of comments, as have related posts.

Among them, one stood out in that the writer, who self-identified as African-American, called on others to be angry about circumstances far beyond the shooting. His/her opinions are strictly that, as the known facts of the shooting - an unarmed teen killed, a shooter who has yet to be arrested - have been plenty to make people around the country angry, with nationwide calls for justice online and protests in several cities. But reader Rav points to more. A relevant excerpt:

If those who are angry be mad that more African-American and Hispanics drop out of school!  Be mad at the deaths which happen in our neighborhoods and the silliness of many to embrace "No Snitching!"  Be mad that we only account for 14% of the nation's population but account for almost half of those in prison.


'We are not the terrorists. You are.' (Video)

Whatever you think of television news interviews with crime victims, this interview with the 17-year-old daughter of Shaima Alawadi, an Iraqi immigrant beaten to death in a possible hate crime in El Cajon, near San Diego, is so powerful that is is difficult to watch at times.

Fatima Alhimidi, who found her mother's severely beaten body in her home last week, spoke to the local station KUSI a few days ago while her mother clung to life in a San Diego hospital. She defiantly addresses a hateful note that she found next to her mother:

"I found her on the floor drowned in her own blood, with a letter next to her hear saying 'go back to your country, you terrorist.' We are not the terrorists. You are. Whoever did it. We don't know what color you are, but we do know one thing. You are not Christian, you are not Muslim, and you are not Jewish. You are someone without a religion, because if you know God, you would know God would not accept that."


Posts of the week: The Trayvon Martin case, how being bilingual makes you smarter, media diversity, generation 1.5 and more

Photo by Reigh LeBlanc/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The tragic shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and how race factored into it has dominated the headlines this week. But there's also been good news (being bilingual can make you smarter!) and an unexpected call for media diversity from, of all places, Los Angeles City Hall. Without further ado, a few of the week's highlights:


Your brain on a second language: Bilingualism and brain power More evidence that speaking a second language boosts brain power. According to research, the mental focus it takes to switch from communicating in one language to another is a "workout" for the brain that improves cognitive and problem-solving skills, and can even delay the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms.


With shooter's ethnicity, race becomes an even bigger part of the Trayvon Martin story A recent development in the case involving the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black boy shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida, was that the shooter, George Zimmerman, is half Latino. There were some interesting reactions to this online, including from some non-Latino whites who had felt scapegoated.


Where race matters in the Trayvon Martin case, and where it doesn't

Photo by werthmedia/Flickr (Creative Commons)

At a protest demanding justice for the killing of Trayvon Martin, March 19, 2012

Race has played a major role since the start in the case involving the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old boy who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer last month in Sanford, Florida. The teenager, who was visiting the community with his father, had been on his way back to a family friend's home after a quick trip to a convenience store; the shooter, 28-year-old George Zimmerman, called police and described Trayvon as "real suspicious" before apparently pursuing him.

Many believe the shooting was triggered by racial profiling, especially after the release of a 911 tape earlier this month. Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense, has yet to be arrested. But the racial discussion has grown broader in the last week, after Zimmerman’s father identified his son as Latino to a Florida newspaper.