How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Pik-sa, pisa or pizza?

Photo by Mr. Ducke/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Pizza (or pik-sa, or pisa) con jalapeños, May 2009

A reader responding to a recent collection of awkward language moments experienced by English learners, or people who were raised by them, has shared a good one: "pik-sa," better known as pizza.

Edith Padilla wrote:

I cannot seem to shake my habit of saying “pik-sa” instead of “pit-za.” I don’t make that mistake with the word mozzarella but pizza is a whole different story.

I've heard that one among Latinos, as well as "pisa," like in the leaning tower of Pisa or the Spanish verb "pisar," meaning to step or tread on. I visited my parents last weekend and shared a "pisa" with them for lunch. A Hawaiian pisa with barbecued chicken, which was quite tasty.

Have an ESL moment to share? Feel free to post anecdotes below.

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Bogus 'army unit' a reminder of how far immigrants are willing go for citizenship

Photo by U.S. Army Korea-IMCOM/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A military naturalization ceremony held at a U.S. Army base in South Korea, December 2008

The story of David Deng, a Chinese immigrant from El Monte accused of charging fellow Chinese immigrants upwards of $400 to join a bogus "special forces" military unit that could lead them to U.S. citizenship - replete with bogus uniforms - might come off on one hand as this week's immigration news of the weird.

On the other hand, it's a relevant reminder of how far many immigrants to the United States are willing to go in order to become citizens.

The ranks of non-citizen soldiers in the U.S. military, often referred to as “green card soldiers,” have swelled in recent years. In order to attract more military conscripts, the federal government made a series of policy changes in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks that would make joining the military more attractive to legal-resident immigrants. This included a 2002 presidential order allowing non-citizens serving in the military to apply for expedited citizenship.

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In the news this morning: Nacho Cheese tacos, L.A. May Day march, a more diverse Harvard, lawsuit over detained LGBT immigrants, more

Ouch, Our Arteries: Taco Bell Tests Shell Made of Nacho Cheese Doritos - TIME Dusty cheesy flavor-blasted taco shells? Please, Taco Bell, say it isn't so.

Immigrant, worker rights supporters put out call for May Day march - 89.3 KPCC Immigrant and workers’ rights advocates staged a small demonstration in downtown Los Angeles yesterday to call for an end to budget cutbacks that hurt working families. They also announced plans for march on May 1.

A More Diverse Class of 2015: Harvard Accepts Record Numbers of Black and Latino Students - GOOD The number of African American and Latino students accepted into the class of 2015 may be the highest in school history.

Fake army: Lawyers for man accused of raising fake army say group was a charity - Los Angeles Times The defense for the El Monte man accused of charging Chinese immigrants money to join a phony "U.S. Army" unit claims he was trying to operate a Salvation Army-style charity group.

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Do we live in the nation's most diverse city? It depends.

Photo by Chelsea Nicole Conner/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The skyline as seen from the Griffith Observatory, August 2010

As it promotes its special quarterly issue highlighting Los Angeles, the magazine GOOD recently posted an interesting short piece that examines how diversity is measured - and where, depending on the metrics, Los Angeles places among other large U.S. cities.

From the piece:

If you look at the total number of minorities in an area, Los Angeles does come out on top. According to county-level data from the 2007 U.S. Census, Los Angeles County has more Hispanic residents (4.7 million), Asian residents (1.4 million), and Native American residents (146,500) than any other in the nation. But that’s largely because Los Angeles County has more people, period. L.A. County has 9.8 million residents, nearly twice that of Cook County, Illinois, the second largest.

Another method is to look at the percentage of minorities in an area. By this measure, according to the online data repository City-Data, New York is the most diverse major city, with only 35 percent of residents identifying as “white only,” followed by Dallas, Chicago, and Houston. However, City-Data’s figures don’t jibe with the 2005 to 2009 U.S. Census American Community Survey, which places the New York figure at 45.4, behind Chicago’s 41.9 percent.

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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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