How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Video: Running migrant family guerilla art in L.A., pre-Banksy

A post yesterday on a pre-Banksy artistic rendering of the running migrant family freeway sign - one of innumerable pre-Banksy versions, actually - is now in turn inspiring art submissions.

I received this YouTube video of an early-morning guerilla art sprint involving the running family last May 1, shot by a USC film student. Multiple prints of the running characters were installed around the city, dangled over freeway overpasses in the hazy, subdued golden light that dawn brings to a smoggy town. Shaky camera, great footage.

As mentioned in previous posts, the familiar image started life as a caution sign along San Diego-area freeways in the early 1990s, a warning for motorists to watch for pedestrians at a time when smugglers were leading their charges across lanes to evade immigration authorities. Many migrants were hit and killed. Long before British street artist Banksy's much-covered "Caution" stencil went up (and went down) in Los Angeles recently, a number of mostly Latino artists in the U.S. had been claiming the image as protest art. The characters have been reinterpreted as everything from Pilgrims to college graduates, even as the Holy Family.


Among 'psycho-emotional' effects of immigration on kids: Communication breakdown

Photo by TruShu/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The immigrant advocacy blog Project Economic Refugee has featured a much-tweeted Q&A with Dr. Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, the author of a new book titled Listen to the Children: Conversations with Immigrant Families.

The interview covers the "psycho-emotional impacts of immigration" on the children in immigrant families, touching on issues that range from family separation after immigration raids to spirituality. One issue that's not so widely discussed stood out, however, and that's family communication.

Frazier discusses the odd role reversal that takes place when children become interpreters for adult family members, and the incomplete communication between parents and children that begins to occur as children learn English, while the native language of the parents is still spoken at home. The piece features this excerpt from the book:


In the news this morning: More state bills copy SB 1070, minority vs. undocumented workers, Supreme Court takes on post-911 case, more

Fourteen States Weighing Bills Modeled After Arizona’s SB 1070 - ColorLines At least 14 state legislatures have introduced bills similar to SB 1070 in the current legislative session, with legislators undeterred by the lawsuits that have kept Arizona from completely implementing the law.

GOP's anti-immigrant stance could turn Texas into a blue State - The Washington Post Could Texas turn Democratic? Columnist Harold Meyerson's read on census data and the political winds.

GOP: Illegal immigrants taking minorities' jobs - The Associated Press Black lawmakers have accused accused of trying to "manufacture tension" between African-Americans and immigrants as GOP House members argued in a hearing that more minorities would be working were it not for illegal immigration.

Supreme Court Considers Whether Ashcroft Can Be Held Liable In 'Material Witness' Case - NPR The Supreme Court is to take up a case tomorrow stemming from the war on terrorism that involves the arrest, detention and interrogation of Abdullah al-Kidd, a former star running back at the University of Idaho.


American snapshot: 'Educación'

Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Another interpretation of the freeway sign, this one by artist Luis Genaro Garcia, photographed January 2011

Street artist Banksy was only the latest to take on the iconic running migrant family freeway sign. Here is the sign as reinterpreted by Southern California artist Luis Genaro Garcia, who has made a few versions of the image. In this one, the parents carry the tools of manual labor - a wrench and pliers, a feather duster - while the child wears a cap and gown.

I photographed the piece on a wall at the offices of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles while reporting on an event there last January.


Will 'Blank-sy' contest inspire more immigration-themed art?

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A memorial where Banksy's "Caution," a parody of the migrant family freeway sign - flying a kite - was cut out of the wall at First and Soto Streets, February 28, 2011

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A memorial where Banksy's "Caution," a parody of the migrant family freeway sign - flying a kite - was cut out of the wall at First and Soto Streets, February 28, 2011

Will an online contest to "fill in" the space left on a Boyle Heights wall after street artist Banksy's version of the running-family migrant freeway sign draw more immigration-themed political art?

The culture blog Remezcla has launched a "Fill in the Blank-sy" art contest asking readers, "What would you put in this spot’s space now that Banksy’s work has been stolen?"

A Multi-American post yesterday explored the brief life of a stencil by the elusive British artist, in town for the Oscars as a best-documentary nominee, which depicted the familiar freeway sign showing a running family of three. Only in this case, the characters against the yellow background were depicted flying a kite.

The stencil at First and Soto Streets in Boyle Heights was defaced and later removed on Friday; at least two nearly identical stencils were documented around town, including one on a Boyle Heights bridge (also gone), although those weren't claimed officially on Banksy's website.