How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Speed dating and sponsors: Latino bloggers 2.0

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Schmooze-fest: A "speed dating" session between Latino bloggers and corporate sponsors, April 7, 2011

I wasn't sure what to expect this afternoon when I stopped by a conference in Hollywood dubbed Hispanicize 2011, a three-day affair billed as a "public relations and social media conference."

The combination sounded intriguing, if the kind of mix that could go, well, any number of ways. And while it leaned heavily toward marketing, in the end, it was rather fascinating.

This dawned on me as I witnessed a "speed dating" session between bloggers and corporate marketing types, standing in a hotel ballroom surrounded people rapidly exchanging business cards and giving one another three-minute pitches before the moderator called time-out.

"Are you a sponsor?" asked an eager-looking young woman, seeing me unattached. I said no, but she explained anyway that she had a parenting blog - a "mami blog," in Latino blogger parlance - dedicated to organic child-rearing, and she was hoping to find the right kind of corporate sponsor.


In Hollywood today for 'Hispanicize'

Photo by TravelingMan/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Why am I posting a map of the island of Hispaniola? Because today I'll be checking out the Hispanicize 2011 social media and public relations conference in Hollywood, which began yesterday. And while a clichéd photo of the Hollywood sign would have done fine, how often do we see maps of Hispaniola, home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic?

The three-day conference is in second year and is being billed as a Latino blogger-fest: Latino culture bloggers, mami bloggers, tech bloggers, food bloggers, entertainment bloggers, even coupon bloggers, they'll all be there. And so as an immigration blogger who happens to also be Latina, I'll be there too.

I'll be checking out panels and tweeting the occasional observation @Multi_American. Any Twitter followers, if you're there also, feel free to send me a message.


In the news this morning: Aftermath of new Japan quake, nonwhite youth population drops in L.A, backlogged immigration courts, more

Japan lifts tsunami alert, but says power cut at one nuke plant - USA Today Today's magnitude 7.4 earthquake hit at roughly the same location and depth as the magnitude 9 earthquake March 11.

Number of nonwhite children in L.A. area declines, bucking nationwide trend, according to 2010 census analysis - Los Angeles Times The decline in nonwhite children goes against the national and state trend as parts of the city gentrify. "It's no longer white flight; it's middle-class flight," a researcher says.

BBC News - Scores of migrants missing as boat capsizes off Italy - BBC More casualties as migrants flee unrest in North Africa, headed north across the Mediterranean.

How to fix 'massive crisis' in immigration courts - San Jose Mercury News The immigration court system operates "at a glacial pace," with files lost, background checks delayed, and hearings rescheduled. Meanwhile, people are detained and families separated long-term.


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.


The gripping tale of a garment industry slave

Photo by Sebastia Giralt/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Roman-era slave shackes at a museum in England, August 2010

Human trafficking into the United States is often associated in the public consciousness with the sex industry, and for good reason. But the trafficking of workers, including factory workers in the garment and food processing industries, is also relatively commonplace.

Today CNN's anti-slavery Freedom Project posted the harrowing testimony of Flor Molina, a Mexican woman who in 2001 was enslaved as a garment worker.

Desperate for money after losing her baby because she could not afford health care back home, Molina began taking sewing classes in order to find work. It was there that she fell victim to trafficking, after a trafficker approached her sewing teacher "because she knew a lot of women who knew how to sew and would be desperate to come to the United States." Molina recounts: