How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

What is your most awkward language moment?

It's been well documented by now that growing up bilingual can be good for you. But getting there? Survivors of an English-learner upbringing can attest that it's not always an easy road, and that the bumps along it - some amusing, some awkward - continue well into adulthood.

I began learning English in kindergarten, learning it at the same time my immigrant parents did. Because I was so young, I quickly mastered the American accent, as did my immigrant peers. But one of the pitfalls of growing up in a household where everyone is learning English is that along the way, you pick up many of the mispronunciations common to English learners.

These mispronunciations vary depending on who is learning the language. For Spanish and Tagalog speakers, for example, the double "ee" of "sheep" is often pronounced like the "i" in "ship," and so forth. I got over the obvious mistakes fairly quickly.

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Is coming to America bad for your mental health?

Photo by Craig Dennis/Flickr (Creative Commons)


A new report from a mental health study of Mexican immigrants has found that immigrants to the United States face more than four times the risk of depression as those who don't immigrate, and that in general, coming to the U.S. increases their risk of depression, anxiety and other problems.

Yesterday the Archives of General Psychiatry published the results of a cross-national study conducted by UC Davis and Mexico's National Institute of Psychiatry. The study analyzed data from interviews with approximately 550 male and female Mexican-born immigrants and approximately 2,500 peers who remained in Mexico, comparing the U.S. group with same-aged, non-immigrant relatives. From the UC Davis website:

It found that during the period following arrival in the United States, Mexican migrants were nearly twice as likely (odds ratio of 1.8) to experience a first-onset depressive or anxiety disorder as their nonmigrant peers. However, the elevated risk among migrants occurred almost entirely in the two youngest migrant groups, those between 18 and 25 years old and those between 26 and 35 at the time of the study.

The greatest risk was experienced by the youngest migrants, who were 18-to-25 years old at the time of the study. Their odds of suffering from any depressive disorder relative to non-migrants was 4.4 — or nearly four-and-one-half times greater — compared with 1.2 in the entire sample.

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In the news this morning: Dream Act return in the works, multiethnic support for Japan, News Corp. goes after Latinos, benefits of bilingual

Sen. Durbin Is Set To Revive DREAM Act Fight in This Congress - ColorLines The office of Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin has confirmed plans to reintroduce the bill this session. It would allow conditional legal status for undocumented youths who attend college or join the military.

Support for Japan Crosses Ethnic Lines, Historical Divides - AsianWeek Recent headlines from ethnic media convey how efforts to provide aid to earthquake and tsunami-devastated Japan have cut across ethnic lines, and in some cases deep historical divides.

2nd child accused in NYC attack on Muslim - Wall Street Journal A 13-year-old girl has been arrested on hate crime charges and is accused, along with a 12-year-old boy, of helping bully and attack a Muslim girl at their school.

News Corp. Launches Fox Hispanic Media - The Hollywood Reporter In its continuing efforts to reach the Latino market, News Corp. has unveiled Fox Hispanic Media, which will include the existing Spanish-language sports network Fox Deportes and a women's lifestyle channel.

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Video: Arab voices in L.A.

KPCC's Grant Slater and Corey Bridwell interviewed Libyan and Syrian American protesters at a solidarity rally this weekend in West Los Angeles, where people said they had been watching the turmoil back home with a mix of hope and apprehension, fearing for friends and loved ones. "This is a day we've all waited for, to see the fall of this regime, so we're excited for that," one Libyan community activist said. "But it's hard to watch what's going on."

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Black or mixed race? Obama's census choice sparks debate over how people identify

Photo by rob.rudloff/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Barack Obama on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania, October 2008

More than a hundred comments have been posted so far in reaction to an interesting opinion piece today from the Los Angeles Times' Gregory Rodriguez on how "the most famous mixed-race person in the world," President Obama, identified himself racially on his census form last year. He checked off only one race, black. From the piece:

It could have been a historic teaching moment. Instead, President Obama, the most famous mixed-race person in the world, checked off only one race — black — last year on his census form. And in so doing, he missed an opportunity to articulate a more nuanced racial vision for the increasingly diverse country he heads.

The president also bucked a trend. Last month, the Census Bureau announced that the number of Americans who identified themselves as being of more than one race in 2010 grew about 32% over the last decade. The number of people who identified as both white and black jumped an astounding 134%. And nearly 50% more children were identified as multiracial on this census, making that category the fastest-growing youth demographic in the country.

To be sure, the number of people — 9 million, or 2.9% of the population — who identified themselves as of more than one race on their census form is still small. But the trend is clear.

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