How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Were the 'Irvine 11' student protesters singled out for being Muslim?

Photo by Shirley Jahad/KPCC

Supporters of the "Irvine 11" students outside the courthouse today after guilty verdict was announced

An Orange County jury late this morning found 10 students known as the 'Irvine 11' guilty on two misdemeanor counts, one of conspiracy and one of disturbing a meeting, for their interruption of a speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren at UC Irvine last year. Prosecutors had argued that the students, from UCI and UC Riverside, "shut down" the ambassador with their repeated heckling; the defense argued that the students were exercising their right to free speech.

The free speech component has made the case national news, but there have also been allegations of ethnic and religious bias, with some pointing to a climate of discrimination against Muslims that in the last year has prompted actions ranging from protests against the building of mosques to hate crimes directed at people perceived to be Muslims.

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Creating race: How the 'Hispanic or Latino' category came to be

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC


An interesting article published by the Migration Policy Institute examines the racialization of those who make up the “Hispanic, Latino or Spanish Origin" category on census forms.

Written by UC Irvine sociologist Rubén Rumbaut, a veteran chronicler of the immigrant experience, the piece delves into the history of racial and ethnic classifications, and on the impact that what began as an administrative move to classify people of Latin American ancestry has had on how they now define themselves in terms of race.

Rumbaut writes:

Are Hispanics a "race" or, more precisely, a racialized category? In fact, are they even a "they?" Is there a Latino or Hispanic ethnic group, cohesive and self-conscious, sharing a sense of peoplehood in the same way that there is an African American people in the United States? Or is it mainly administrative shorthand devised for statistical purposes; a one-size-fits-all label that subsumes diverse peoples and identities?

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'The right to choose how we dress:' American Muslim women speak out on French burqa ban

Photo by Siobhán Silke/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Kenza Drider, one of the most vocal opponents of France's burqa ban, April 2011

On Monday, France implemented a controversial ban on the face-covering veils worn by some Muslim women, which are referred to there as burqa or niqab. Women who continue to wear the veils are subject to steep fines if cited. The French government defends the ban as promoting sexual equality, while critics have called it a blatant appeal to anti-Muslim voters. Meanwhile, there has been mixed reaction from Muslim women as the ban is debated around the world.

KPCC intern Yasmin Nouh, a recent graduate of UC Irvine who herself is Muslim and wears hijab, the traditional head scarf, interviewed three prominent Muslim women in California on reaction to the ban. She spoke with Hadeer Soliman, vice president of the Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine; Edina Lekovic, director of policy and programming for the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles; and Zahra Billoo, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Here's what they had to say about the burqa ban, how it affects Muslim women here, and broader concerns they see surrounding it.

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Introducing the cultural mashup dictionary: Our first term, 1.5 generation

Photo by TexasT/Flickr (Creative Commons)


Just like Southern California’s culture is shaped by immigrants and their descendants, so is its language. There is an evolving lexicon of words, terms and phrases coined here and elsewhere in the U.S. where immigrants have influenced the English language, and it has influenced them.

And it’s worth compiling into its own dictionary of sorts. Today I’m introducing the first entry, a term I use often: 1.5 generation.

Here’s how Wikipedia defines it:

The term 1.5 generation or 1.5G refers to people who immigrate to a new country before or during their early teens. They earn the label the "1.5 generation" because they bring with them characteristics from their home country but continue their assimilation and socialization in the new country. Their identity is thus a combination of new and old culture and tradition.

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