How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

'It kind of took me by surprise:' Egyptian American voices

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Patrons watched Al Jazeera updates from Egypt last night at the Nubia Cafe in Anaheim, February 10, 2011

Last night, in one of the crowded hookah lounges that dot an Anaheim neighborhood known as Little Arabia, I came across a table of Egyptian immigrants tensely watching Al Jazeera via satellite, a group of friends grumbling over a shared smoke and many cups of hibiscus tea.

They were angry and frustrated, having hoped for a resignation announcement from Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak yesterday that turned, instead, into a declaration that he planned to stay in power. But not for long. This morning, those who had managed to sleep awoke to the news they had hoped for: Amid mounting protests, with hundreds of thousands crowding Cairo's Tahrir Square and unrest throughout Egypt, Mubarak finally resigned, ceding power to the military.

Since then, I've caught up with several of the same people I spoke with last night. Today is a new day, they said, and they are elated. For some, mixed in with the joy is a bit of fear of the unknown, magnified by distance as they watch the country they grew up in, and where many of their loved ones still live, begin the difficult transition toward what they hope will be genuine democracy.


American snapshot: Egyptian pride in Anaheim

Photo by Shirley Jahad/KPCC

Mohamad Said celebrates outside a bakery on Brookhurst Avenue in Anaheim, a stretch dubbed the "Gaza Strip" for its many businesses catering to Middle Eastern immigrants. February 11, 2011

Said, 28, told KPCC reporter Shirley Jahad this morning that his family was in Cairo's Tahrir Square, and that "the biggest flag of Egypt is in his heart."


'Yes we can and we did it:' Egypt supporters react on Facebook

Photo by Asim Bharwani/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Since news broke earlier this morning of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's resignation after 18 days of protests that have spread around the country, people have been posting comments on the many Facebook pages that have sprung up in support of the demonstrators.

Here are just a few:

From Support the Egyptian Revolution 2011:

D-Nitikka Hoyer: The people did it they stayed strong even when told to leave always stand on truth

From I Support the Egyptian People:

Aatish Shah: MUBARAK OUT, ARMY IN !! Chearzzz Hoodies (:

From Support the Egyptian People and Democracy in Egypt:
Mohamed Ahmed Abdallah: can't believe it ...congrats Egypt .. it's time to shine .. it's time for change's time for real democracy's your time now ....we finally made it !!! Husny mubarak down !!

Seseme Ali: thank you tunisia thank you khaled saeid thank you wael ghoneem and group than you aljazeera from the heart thank you honest people from the whole world thanks god!!!!!!


Growing up as a Korean-born African American

KoreAm magazine beat me this week to an interview I'd been looking forward to, and they did a great job with it. The magazine featured a profile of Emile Mack, one of the top-ranking firefighters in the Los Angeles Fire Department. What is unusual about Mack's story, which I learned of recently, is that he is a Korean-born adoptee raised by African American parents.

When Mack was a toddler in a South Korean orphanage, Undine and Clarence Mack were shown his photo at their church and decided to adopt him. Mack grew up identifying with the culture of his parents and peers the Crenshaw district, defying outsiders' expectations and stereotypes. From the story:

“There were people who didn’t know me or my family, and they didn’t tease me because I had black parents, but they teased me because I looked Asian. So it was the typical thing, ‘Hey Chinese, hey this, hey that.’ And then my friends would respond, ‘He’s black!! His parents are black, leave him alone!!’” said Mack, his face lighting up at the memory.

“In fact, that still happens today. There are times when I walk into a room with black friends, and they’ll walk up to someone I don’t know, and say, ‘Hey man, he’s cool. He’s a brother.’ And they’ll immediately accept me just because my friend says, ‘Oh, he’s one of us.’”


Latinos on losing end of the 'digital divide'

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

A new Pew Hispanic Center study finds that U.S. Latinos are still on the losing end of the long-reported "digital divide," with Latinos less likely to have Internet access than non-Latino whites, or to have a home broadband connection or a cell phone. They also lag behind black Americans in home broadband access.

From a summary of the report:

While about two-thirds of Latino (65%) and black (66%) adults went online in 2010, more than three-fourths (77%) of white adults did so. In terms of broadband use at home, there is a large gap between Latinos (45%) and whites (65%), and the rate among blacks (52%) is somewhat higher than that of Latinos. Fully 85% of whites owned a cell phone in 2010, compared with 76% of Latinos and 79% of blacks.

The disparity is related mostly to income and education levels, and "Hispanics and whites who have similar socioeconomic characteristics have similar usage patterns for these technologies," the report summary reads. Not surprisingly, 71 percent of U.S.-born Latinos are likely to have a home Internet connection, versus 45 percent of foreign-born Latino immigrants.