How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

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.


American snapshot: Koreatown

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Greek, Korean, and some Spanish spoken here, January 2011

The Spanish on the sign might be a little off ("Greek" in Spanish is "griego"), but I was impressed by this trilingual effort while driving south on Normandie Avenue the other day.

I'll confess that I've never eaten at Papa Cristo's, a 63-year-old Greek market and eatery on Pico Boulevard. But now I'm intrigued, if anything by their ambitious marketing: They may be the only Greek taverna in Los Angeles with an online menu in Korean. Way to adapt, Papa.

And for those who want to learn a few words of Greek, there's that, too.


The roar of the Tiger Mother

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This has been the week of the Tiger Mother, and it's not over yet. Since last weekend, when the Wall Street Journal published an essay by author and Yale law professor Amy Chua titled "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior," Chua has become perhaps the most notorious parent in America, setting off a firestorm of controversy over the parenting techniques she described in the essay and in her memoir, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother."

It's not suprising given some of the content: Among other things, Chua described a parenting regimen that deprived her two daughters of play dates, sleepovers, television and computer games in favor of piano and violin practice, along with incidents like once calling one of the girls "garbage" and rejecting the children's homemade birthday cards.

After receiving what she described as “hundreds, hundreds” of e-mails and even death threats, Chua defended herself in an interview with The New York Times that ran this weekend, explaining that her sense of irony and self-mockery was misunderstood. In the meantime, a series of spoof sites have emerged, from an alternately hilarious and painful to watch animated video to a "Tiger Mom Says" Tumblr.


In the news this morning: Cross-border shooting lawsuit, author Amy Chua speaks out, 'virtual fence' over, dating while undocumented, more

Parents of dead Mexican teenager sue U.S. government - Reuters The parents of a 15-year-old boy killed last year on the Mexican side of the border, allegedly by a bullet fired across the river by a Border Patrol agent, have sued for $25 million. The boy was accused of throwing rocks.

Amy Chua - Retreat of the ‘Tiger Mother’ - New York Times Author and Yale professor Chua defends herself and the controversial parenting style she described in her book and in a recent essay.

US cancels 'virtual fence' along Mexican border. What's Plan B? - The government has spent $1 billion on the high-tech "virtual fence," which federal officials now say is too costly to extend along the whole U.S.-Mexico border. Only 53 miles are complete.

Florida Legislator Wears Passport to Work to Protest Arizona-Style Immigration Measures - Fox News Latino State Rep. Luis Garcia Jr., a Cuban-American Democrat, has taken to wearing his passport on a lanyard around his neck to protest a proposed SB 1070-style law.