Screen shot of a race and ethnicity map of the Compton area from the New York Times' "Mapping America: Every City, Every Block" interactive project. Blue dots represent African Americans, yellow dots represent Latinos. Each dot represents 25 people.
A post from last week regarding the political scenario in Compton, where Latino residents are vying with the city's established but shrinking African American community for political power, drew a series of comments over the weekend. While most of the later comments revolved around illegal immigration (and no, the lawsuit filed by three Latina residents trying to change Compton's local election process has nothing to do with this) there was an intriguing comment at the beginning that I reread a few times.
From a reader identified as "1tag," the comment, below, captured something beyond what's often described in simple terms as racial and ethnic tension in parts of Los Angeles County such as Compton, where a traditionally African American population has given way to a Latino majority.
Chipotle Faces Protesters After Firings Over Audit - Wall Street Journal The Denver-based corporate burrito chain fired a large number of employees from its Minnesota restaurants after records were audited by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Immigration bill concerns Kentucky's Latino community - Miami Herald The southern state is the latest of many to float an immigration crackdown bill.
$1B virtual border fence went from optimism to doom - Houston Chronicle By the time the Bush-era "virtual fence" was canceled by the Obama administration this month, five years after its inception, the first 53 miles of sensors, cameras, radar and towers at two locations in Arizona had cost $1 billion.
Rise of the Sanchize: The Jets' Mark Sánchez Is the NFL's Latino Franchise Player - Fox News Latino On the 24-year-old Latino quarterback who leads the New York Jets.
Photo by grabadonut/Flickr (Creative Commons)
San Fernando Valley map, March 2008
Among the favorite pieces I've read in recent days is the transcript of Kevin Roderick's weekly column for KCRW that aired earlier this week. Roderick, who edits LA Observed, reported on the 50th anniversary last weekend of a visit that Martin Luther King, Jr. made to what was then the remote west end of the San Fernando Valley. Invited by a white pastor, King delivered two sermons at a small church in Woodland Hills, and spoke about integration at Canoga Park High School.
What stands out is how Roderick places King's visit in the context of early 1960s Valley history, when this part of the region was, as he writes, "a place where if any blacks lived then, they were mostly alone." The piece continues:
The valley then wasn't the suburban melting pot we know today, filled with immigrants from Latin America, Korea, Armenia, South Asia.
There were no weekend cricket matches in valley parks in those days. No black Baptist churches. No black students at all in the public schools in the west valley.
And that was no accident of history.
When the wheat fields were first subdivided into yards and suburban homes, the deeds stipulated that the land could never be sold or rented to anyone of African, Chinese or Japanese descent.
Those covenants were also used to limit where Mexican Americans could live. In the first years of Canoga Park, the field workers whose families might have been in the valley for half a century were confined to a section called Cholo Town.
Screen shot of a race and ethnicity map of the Compton area from the New York Times' "Mapping America: Every City, Every Block" interactive project. Blue dots represent African Americans, yellow dots represent Latinos, red dots represent Asians and green dots represent whites. Each dot represents 25 people.
While the U.S. Census Bureau has yet to release new data on race and ethnicity, it's already clear that some of the states with the biggest population growth, and which will gain Congressional seats, also happen to be states where Latinos have come to represent a bigger chunk of the population in recent years. But does this necessarily translate into more political clout for Latinos? And as these population shifts take place, what shape do they take at the neighborhood level, culturally and politically?
An interesting case study is playing out in Compton, a working-class Los Angeles County city that was long predominantly African American (some may remember it as the Compton of N.W.A's 1988 hip hop classic Straight Outta Compton) but where Latinos now make up two-thirds of the population.
Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr (Creative Commons)
In the 24 hours or so since radio host Rush Limbaugh mocked Chinese president Hu Jintao's speech yesterday, making a series of "ching chong, ching chow" sounds as his, er, approximation of Chinese language, the reaction has come swiftly, angrily, and on the late-night circuit, comically.
For the record, a bit of what was uttered, as posted on ColorLines:
They normally — you have some translator every couple of words. But Hu Jintao was just going CHING CHONG, CHING CHOW CHONG CHA, CHONG CHANG, CHING CHONG CHIBABABA, OH CHONGHING CHI CHIGARAI, CHENG CHI CHI. CHING ZHA BABA CHENGA CHENG CHI CHI CHI. CHANGI. OOOOOO. CHING CHOLABA BABA. GE CHOW CHOW BA.
The Atlantic Wire has compiled a list of reactions from media pundits and bloggers, among them Mediaite's Jon Bershad, who asks if Limbaugh will be subject to the same amount of backlash as comic Rosie O'Donnell was when she uttered