How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

In Compton, a case study in shifting demographics and the political landscape

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 yesterday explored the political impact of a shifting and growing Latino population throughout the United States, as states with some of the biggest population gains noted in last year's census pick up Congressional seats. But there's another version of the population shift story that's unfolding in Compton at the moment, a formerly African American majority city that is now two-thirds Latino.

Like other communities in a broad swath of Los Angeles County that was once predominantly African American, Compton is in the throes of a cultural and political struggle between its traditional residents and its newer ones, as both groups compete for political clout and limited resources in a community where the 2009 per-capita income was a little over $13,000.

In December, three Latinas sued the city under the 2001 California Voting Rights Act, claiming that Compton's at-large city council elections violated Latinos' civil rights by weakening their voting power. Though the city is now majority Latino, all four city council members and the mayor are African American. Since 2000, half a dozen Latino candidates have run for office and lost.


More sense of the census: Analysis looks at Latino population growth and reapportionment

Source: Latino Decisions

State Latino Population Growth 2000-09, based on U.S. Census data

It's been nearly a month since the initial results of the 2010 census were released, and while details on the nation's racial and ethnic breakdown have yet to be made public, the polling firm Latino Decisions has distilled the early information, along with annual census data since 2000, into an analysis of Latino population growth and its political impact.

2010 census data is being used to reapportion Congressional seats based on population. The report points out that only eight states will gain representation: Texas will gain four seats, Florida two, and Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Washington, Georgia and South Carolina will each gain one.

Why these states? From the report:

Larger Latino presence in these states was essential to gaining additional representation. The 2010 ethnic and racial composition data are not yet public, but comparing 2000 and 2009 Census data it is evident that congressional delegation growth is attributable to Latino-specific population growth in these states.  As the figure below illustrates, the Latino share of state populations increased in every case. This is not a regional phenomenon: in 35 states across the country, their population more than doubled.

It is true that non-Latinos also netted gains, but Latinos out-paced others by rather strong margins.  Some states, including Louisiana, Rhode Island and Michigan actually had a net loss of non-Latinos and grew only because Latino increases offset the non-Latino population dip.  With all of these details in mind, it is fair to say that all new districts are Latino districts.


In the news, this afternoon: Immigration and the Senate agenda, no new fast food in South L.A., Fred Korematsu Day, race relations poll, mor

A mixed bag of p.m. reads for those just catching up:

Reid: Taxes, spending and immigration reform top Senate agenda - The Hill Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested yesterday that he could find common ground with Republicans on taxes, spending, and perhaps on immigration reform this session.

New Fast-Food Restaurants Are Banned From South L.A. - New York Times The city is making permanent what began as a temporary ban on new fast-food restaurants in South Los Angeles, where poverty and obesity rates are high in relation to other parts of town.

Fred Korematsu Day Celebration Set for Jan. 30 - AsianWeek The state holiday is the first in the nation named after an Asian American. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill last fall approving the holiday honoring Korematsu, a civil rights hero who resisted the rounding up of Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II.


Who was Wong Kim Ark? How a son of immigrants helped define who is a U.S. citizen

Photo from Wikipedia Commons

Wong Kim Ark

At the heart of the coming battle over the constitutional right to U.S. citizenship for everyone born in this country is how the 14th Amendment, adopted in 1868, is interpreted. And at the heart of that interpretation is a 112-year-old Supreme Court decision, based on a lawsuit filed by a young man from San Francisco named Wong Kim Ark.

Wong is relatively little known to history. But his case, decided in 1898, affirmed the right to citizenship for the children of Chinese immigrants, at time barred from naturalizing - and set a precedent for all children of immigrants, regardless of their parents' status.

Wong was in his early twenties, a cook by trade, when he crossed paths with immigration officials. He was born in 1873 and raised in San Francisco by his Chinese immigrant parents who, eight years after the passage of the discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, engaged in what today might be called attrition through enforcement: After 20 years in the United States, they packed their bags, boarded a westbound steamship and moved back to China.


'Tiger Mother' author on child rearing, her immigrant parents, and why raising her kids as she was 'just did not work out the same way'

Photo by Laurie Pink/Flickr (Creative Commons)

"Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" author Amy Chua joined AirTalk's Larry Mantle on KPCC today to discuss the controversy that has arisen surrounding her newly-published memoir, especially after an excerpted essay ran in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month with her description of some extremely tough love used in raising her two daughters.

In his introduction, Mantle said he'd seen the book as "tongue-in-cheek exaggeration" rather than as a manifesto of how to raise a child without play dates, sleepovers or other small pleasures of Western childhood. Chua, a Yale law professor, said the book "is intended to be just full of deadpan humor. It is self-mocking." The book was written after her youngest daughter, fed up with her overly strict mother, finally rebelled and Chua learned to soften her approach.