How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Hate speech over Dodger Stadium attack illustrates the racial tension surrounding it

Photo by The West End/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The team logo behind home plate, August 2009

The "uncomfortable racial undercurrent" I mentioned in a post Friday on the discussion surrounding the severe beating of a white San Francisco Giants fan at Dodger Stadium opening night, by two men described as Latino, has not become any more comfortable over the weekend.

In the post, I highlighted an essay from a Latino writer that addressed the racial undercurrent, which began brewing after reports described the suspected ethnicity of the men who attacked Santa Cruz paramedic Bryan Stow. I also highlighted a few of several racially charged comments posted beneath just one of the news reports, an early story on the local CBS News website.

Since Friday, the discussion has attracted more of the same on the Multi-American site. A comment from a reader identified as Leo Fryer referred to the attacks and/or violence as "part of Hispanic culture," then went south from there, referring to Latinos as insects and calling for their being "exterminated." I was about to take the comment down (all opinions are welcome, but the line is drawn at cursing and hate speech) when responses to it began coming in, illustrating the racial tension surrounding the attack. Here are a couple of other readers' responses:

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Is 'coming out' undocumented becoming less risky?

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC


A couple of posts last month addressed a strategy that a growing number of undocumented youths have embraced as they campaign for legalization, revealing their immigration status as a political act.

It took off last year as undocumented college students campaigned for the Dream Act, proposed legislation that would have granted conditional legal status to young people brought here illegally as minors if they attended college or joined the military. The bill died in the Senate last December, but students and their supporters have not given up their campaign.

Some perceive "coming out" as equal parts catharsis and political strategy, and see the trend continuing. Here's how Jorge Gutierrez, a young man I spoke with last month, put it when I asked him if he saw revealing immigration status as becoming a cultural norm among his peers:

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In the news this morning: France burqa ban, Latino population growth and the GOP, 'LA Plaza' in LA, no arrests in Sikh shooting, more

France's Burqa Ban Adds To Anti-Muslim Climate - NPR A law banning the public use of veils covering the face, as worn by Muslim women, goes into effect in France today.

AZ planning crackdown on tax fraud; new scrutiny may affect migrants most - Arizona Daily Star People whose federal tax-identification numbers doesn't match the information provided on their W-2 forms will not get their refunds.

Latino Population Surge Poses Challenge to GOP - Wall Street Journal Right-leaning Sun Belt states are expected to add seats in Congress in the next election, but to take full advantage, Republicans must win over Latinos, who have fueled much of the population growth.

Los Angeles' LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes - Los Angeles Times The $54-million cultural center, which will include exhibitions on the city's Mexican American heritage, educational programs and live performances, opens next Saturday.

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Five awkward language moments

Photo by Visentico/Sento/Flickr (Creative Commons)


In a post earlier this week, I described what can best be called being haunted by the ESL ghost. I learned English in kindergarten and have no discernible accent, no trace of my native Spanish in my otherwise very American-sounding speech.

But growing up in a family of immigrant English learners, I picked up many of the mispronunciations that are common to those who learn English as a second language, and some of these dog me to this day.

In the post I shared a couple of awkward language moments, like times I've mispronounced colander as "co-LAN-der" and my tendency to call a skiing balaclava a "ba-CLA-va," which sounds a bit like one of my favorite pastries.

Since then, readers have responded by sharing some of their own ESL moments. Here are a few, edited slightly for typos:

Rogelio Gómez Hernández wrote:

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Race and the Dodger Stadium attack

Photo by FoxKat/Flickr (Creative Commons)


A couple of days ago I came across an essay that got at the heart of the uncomfortable racial undercurrent running through the discussion of last week's senseless beating of a San Francisco Giants fan by two men at Dodger Stadium on opening night.

The victim, Bryan Stow, a Santa Cruz paramedic and father who was beaten so severely he may have brain damage, is white. The attackers, who have yet to be caught, are described as Latino. Writing for the L.A. Forward website, Tomás J. Benítez, a longtime Dodger fan and advisor to the Latino Baseball History Project of the Baseball Reliquary, took on the race issue:

Whether this was a racially motivated crime is yet to be determined, but it is possible, given that bigotry is often a characteristic of thugs—who come in all colors.

Race is a factor for all the wrong reasons. When news of the incident broke I was chagrined. It just had to be stupid Mexicans, I said to myself. A local writer made reference to Raider fans—a barely veiled, racially charged comment that infers rowdy fans from lower classes who are part of the thug culture, often Black and Brown. He was very bold to call it as he sees it, he just didn’t say what he really meant. In either case, we are both wrong. What happened was indeed one isolated incident, poorly monitored by park security, infused by booze and stupidity, and a desecration of sports to any fan—regardless of color, religion, gender or lifestyle.

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