How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Secrets of the Latin American supermarket

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Last week, Multi-American kicked off a series of informal guides to the ethnic supermarket, the mega-bodegas of all flavors that have become part of the regional landscape as Southern California’s immigrant enclaves have grown and evolved. Guest blogger Lory Tatoulian took us on a tour of a Super King store, part of a warehouse grocery chain that caters to Los Angeles' vast Armenian American community. This week I'll be your guide, touring one of the region's many superstores catering to Latinos. So let's go.


The Latin American supermarket has been a familiar sight in Southern California for decades. When I was a kid, my family shopped for familiar products in the small carnicerías of Huntington Park and Bell, but I remember when things began changing. One of the first incarnations of the Latino warehouse store was a Vons-owned chain called Tianguis - a Nahuatl word for an open public market  - that opened a store near us.

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The odd journey of the 'Smuggle Truck,' from border to zoo

It has been a long, strange trip for "Smuggle Truck," the proposed human smuggling-themed game featuring a truck full of smuggled migrants bouncing through the wilderness, with the goal of players to keep the human cargo from being thrown off.

The game, which drew substantial outrage, was nixed by Apple as an application for iPhone and iPad, though it's still available in Mac and PC mode. But with a few tweaks here and there, its developers, Owlchemy Labs, have converted the truck filled with smuggled humans to a truck filled with cuddly animals bound for the zoo. It's now called "Snuggle Truck."

Here's how the developers explained the new game in a promotional video:

"Snuggle Truck will feature a group of cuddly creatures escaping the wilderness for the comfort of a zoo, where they are provided plenty of food, shelter, and state-of-the-art health care."

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In the news this morning: More grim discoveries in Tamaulipas, Apple rejects immigration-themed game, 'birther' Donald Trump, more

Body count from Mexican mass graves nears 300 - Reuters The search for victims in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas continues. Many of the dead are believed to be migrant workers who refused to cooperate with drug smugglers.

Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Leaving the U.S. - Business Week Skilled immigrants have been returning to their native countries, including India and China, to start businesses there.

Some states undeterred by Arizona immigration-law backlash - Politico In spite of the legal setbacks that have weakened Arizona's SB 1070, states like Florida and Georgia are still considering similar bills.

Donald Trump presses on - Los Angeles Times Trump, who embraced the "birther" movement as he contemplates a run for the White House, is giving himself credit for the release yesterday of President Obama's long-form Hawaii birth certificate.

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Immigration, foreignness and the 'birther' debate

Photo by paparatti/Flickr (Creative Commons)


In John F. Kennedy's day, it was the anti-Catholics who dogged the Irish American presidential candidate, raising fears that having a Catholic descendant of immigrants in the White House could mean a United States under the influence of the Vatican and a compromise of the firewall between church and state.

It was referred to as religious bigotry. But it had only been a matter of decades then since Irish immigrants were accepted into mainstream society. While the controversy was over religion, Kennedy's Irish roots lay close to the surface of the debate.

The same can be said for Barack Obama's half-Kenyan roots today, amid the so-called "birther" debate that has prompted the White House to release the president's long-form birth certificate. The accusation that Obama was not born in Hawaii, but in his father's native Kenya, has dogged him since his campaign days, prompting him back in 2008 to release the more easily obtained short-form birth certificate.

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