How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Is Fidel Castro dead? Anatomy of a trending Twitter meme

Javier Galeano/AP

Fidel Castro made a surprise appearance at the 6th Communist Party Congress in Havana, Cuba, held April 19, 2011.

Is Cuban leader Fidel Castro dead?

That rumor dominated a large part of the Twitterverse on Wednesday.

If true, Castro's death would be one of the biggest stories of the year, and perhaps the biggest ever for older Cuban Americans who have been waiting decades for the day to arrive.

But even if the longtime Cuban dictator isn't dead, there's still a story: How Twitter — especially Spanish-language Twitter — gives life to rumors of death.

Rumors have been spreading all afternoon about Castro's death, mainly via Twitter — perhaps spurred by a Miami blogger's post in Spanish that spoke of Castro's supposed dementia and rapidly failing health. 

Wednesday's rumor-mongering was only the latest incarnation of the Castro-is-dead meme. Long before Twitter, rumblings about Castro's demise have surfaced so often that many of those tweeting Wednesday about the 86-year-old longtime Cuban leader would likely have a hard time believing it if it were true. 


More over @MexicanMitt, your new rival speaks French - sort of

Photo by Alexandra Moss/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The "attack croissant" of the Twitter parody?

Move over, @MexicanMitt. There's another bilingual Mitt Romney parody on Twitter now, and this one speaks (quelle horreur!) French. Sort of.

@LeVraiMitt ("the true Mitt") joined the Twitter meme ranks this morning and, like @Mexican Mitt, is steadily gaining followers and press coverage. Why French, one might ask?

Unlike the former meme, which seizes on Romney's Mexican roots (his father, a descendant of American Mormons who moved south in the 19th century, was born in the state of Chihuahua), this one seizes on the GOP presidential primary front-runner's limited command of French, picked up while living briefly in France as a Mormon missionary.

But just the fact that Romney made attempts at using French publicly has been enough for rival Newt Gingrich's campaign to blast him for it. In a recent ad painting the former Massachusetts governor as yet another too-liberal politico from that state, the voice-over says ominously: "and just like John Kerry...he speaks French, too!”


'A crime to dream the American dream?' Reaction to 'Dreamers' and their support network

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A poster at a pro-Dream Act student gathering place in Los Angeles, December 2010

A post from last Friday detailing how undocumented youths have been using social media to build a support network - and in some cases, to fight deportation - was  widely circulated over the weekend. It also drew a very long string of comments, a mix of cheers and outrage.

Here are just a few, unedited. John Collins wrote:

Isn't that sweet. Those young activists are giving away something which doesn't belong to them to illegals. That something is OUR country, which rightfully ought to preserved for OUR children. How generous.

Overpopulation is not just an issue for developing countries. Own own resources are running out rapidly, ad we will have a sharp drop in our standard of living and quality of life as a result.

Eduardo (who posted several comments) responded with this excerpt:
The money they earn, for the most part, is invested here in houses, consumption, education, taxes ($14 billion annually only from undocumented immigrants), and by keeping up a deteriorated economy with cheap labor that translate into less expensive products for you and all the John Collins to enjoy.

And even the money that they send back home is a blessing for the US. That money is promoting development that has been proven to stop immigration to the US.

Every time you go to a restaurant, every time you enjoy a nice garden, a beautiful landscape, a clean bathroom. Every time you can go out for dinner with Ms. Collins while safely leaving your kids with undocumented Maria, every time you hear Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, all this times, John, your life gets better and better.

Is it a crime to dream the American dream? People don´t break real laws by migrating to where there is work and a chance to find prosperity. John, you are living among entrepreneurial, non conformist people...the best of the best of the countries that could not keep them.


The cultural mashup dictionary: Twittear and Feisbuk

Photo by TexasT/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A recent post on the neologism Googlear has inspired two related entries to Multi-American's evolving cultural mashup dictionary: The social media mashup terms Twittear and Feisbuk.

First, the Wiktionary definition of twittear:


From the online microblogging website, Twitter.


twittear (first-person singular present twitteo, first-person singular preterite twitteé, past participle twitteado)

1. (Internet) to tweet

I've used and heard "twittear" among Spanish-English bilinguals for quite a while, but there's also this adaptation below, as posted in the comments under the "googlear" post by ar2ro:
more than likely i see "el twitter" being used more in time than "twittear."

ex: ya mandaste el tweet? (did you send the tweet?)
mire tu mesaje en el twitter. (i saw you message on twitter)
me gusta el twitter (i like twitter)

twittear somehow does not sound right. even googlear sounds a bit funky, but does roll off the tongue in spanish rather well.


A Thanksgiving retweet

Photo by Lane & Anne/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The table is set, November 2007

RT @NeffStarr Turkey with my white family @1pm Then my mexican family @6pm

I caught a retweet of this little gem from someone in Houston yesterday. I liked it because it captures, in less than 140 characters, the transitioning between cultures that is also a big part of Thanksgiving Day for many in Southern California, where families are of mixed ethnicity, mixed race and mixed status.

For recent immigrants who celebrate it, the holiday is part of their adaptation to a new culture. For those who have been here a long time and have raised children here, it is a tradition that captures a cross-generational blend of voices, attitudes and languages at the table.

And for those of us raised here, the second and third generations (and the 1.5s like me), it's a day of transitioning between the old and the new, the families that raised us and the families we have perhaps married into, which, in this part of the country, might be from a different culture altogether.