How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

American snapshot: Hawthorne

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A sign advertising what's for sale at the Fiji Food Mart on Hawthorne Boulevard, February 21, 2011

Chivo, taro leaves, and ghee: The city that is the home of the Beach Boys is also home to a diverse population that's close to a third African American, half Latino and around six percent Asian, with a small Pacific Islander population as well.

This Hawthorne Boulevard grocery store advertising goat meat in English and Spanish, taro leaves and Indian clarified butter (ghee) caters to Fijian, Tongan and Samoan immigrants and carries specialties like bags of UFOs, circular "burger flavoured" munchies imported from Fiji that taste better than they sound. The ghee is a nod to Indo-Fijians, descendants of Indian laborers who make up a substantial chunk of Fiji's population.

All within easy walking distance of a soul food restaurant and a soccer supply store that caters to Latinos, just a few of the ethnic businesses on this busy commercial strip.

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'I'm torn:' A death penalty opponent reacts to the sentencing of Brisenia Flores' convicted killer

Screen shot from Presente.org

As Arizona state senators yesterday prepared to hear some of the strictest anti-illegal immigration legislation to come out of the state since SB 1070, a convicted murderer whose crime was rooted in one of the darker corners of the immigration debate was sentenced to death in Tucson.

Shawna Forde, a radical anti-illegal immigration activist who led a Minuteman splinter group, has joined two other women on Arizona's death row; she was convicted last week in the brutal 2009 home invasion murder of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father, Raul, in the Arizona border town of Arivaca.

Forde was also convicted of robbery, the believed motive, and was not convicted of a hate crime. But it has been difficult to separate the crime from the beliefs she espoused. Among the reactions today is this post on Slate by blogger Amanda Marcotte:

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In the news this morning: More on Arizona immigration crackdown bills, death penalty for the Brisenia Flores murder, Ruben Salazar report re

Arizona immigration bills aim for bigger crackdown - Arizona Republic A state senate committee gives the go-ahead to the most stringent immigration enforcement measures in the state since SB 1070.

Death Sentence for Arizona Minuteman Who Killed Girl and Dad - New America Media Shawna Forde was convicted last week for the 2009 home invasion murder of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father in Arivaca, Arizona, a rural border town. She was the leader of an anti-illegal immigration activist group, Minuteman American Defense.

Harvard Names Shakira Artist of the Year - Latina Yes, the words Harvard and Shakira in one sentence. The singer, songwriter and philanthropist was named 2011 Artist of the Year by the Harvard Foundation.

Groups sue FBI over Muslim surveillance - The Orange County Register According to a lawsuit filed yesterday, the First Amendment rights of hundreds of Muslims were violated when an FBI-directed informant was asked to infiltrate local mosques.

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Arizona back in spotlight after senate committee OKs stringent immigration bills

Photo by Patrick Dockens/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Just like that, Arizona finds itself back at the epicenter of the debate over how far a state can go with immigration enforcement, with perhaps more anti-illegal immigration legislation pending than ever before. Yesterday, the state Senate Appropriations Committee approved bills proposing stringent immigration enforcement measures, including:

- Two companion bills, SB 1308 and 1309, which seek to deny U.S. citizenship to children born to undocumented immigrants

- A  newly introduced "omnibus" bill, SB 1611, that among other things would bar undocumented immigrants from public housing, demand documentation for children to attend public schools, prohibit undocumented immigrants from driving or buying a car, bar them from obtaining a state marriage license, and make it more difficult for employers to hire them

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Adopted parents, adopted children: How two mothers reconnected with their Korean roots

Photo by Chiceaux Lynch/Flickr (Creative Commons)

New American Media featured a moving story this weekend from Hyphen magazine, which covers the Asian American diaspora. It told the stories of two Korean adoptees who, when deciding to adopt children themselves, turned to the country of their birth.

One woman, Rebecca Eun Hee Viot, and her biological brother grew up in Minnesota with their adoptive white family, disconnected from their ethnic roots. When circumstances prompted Viot and her husband to adopt, they chose Ruby, a 9-month-old from South Korea. From the piece:

Since then, Ruby has brought peace to Viot's life and tightened Viot's bonds to her birth country. “I never took a pride in being Korean," Viot said, though she wasn't necessarily ashamed. “I was often confused and sad because I knew I didn't fit in. I just didn't know who I was.”

Motivated by her daughter, Viot has begun to explore Korean food (she can now cook kaktugi, bulgogi, japchae and kimchi jigae) and the Korean language (she has learned to read Hangul and aspires to speak it with her biological family). She is also interested in learning Korean drumming and dance through the Korean Heritage House, which recently opened in the Twin Cities; Ruby will be enrolled when she turns 4.

“We're learning together,” said Viot, who has founded an Internet forum for parents undergoing the adoption process. I have to stop myself from thinking that just because [Ruby and I] look alike that is enough. I'm still learning about the traditions. I have to do my homework, just like my [friends who are] Caucasian adoptive parents.

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