How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Mr. Hernandez goes to Washington

Screen shot from AP video

Daniel Hernandez

Daniel Hernandez, the young college intern who came to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' rescue after she was shot earlier this month in Tucson, will attend President Obama's State of the Union Address as a guest of Michelle Obama, along with the family of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who died in the Jan. 8 attack at a Tucson grocery store that killed six and injured several others.

Here's what Hernandez, who turns 21 today, told USA Today:

"It's definitely a very exciting way to be spending my 21st birthday," Hernandez said in an interview. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I only wish it had happened under different circumstances."

In the weeks since the shooting, Hernandez has drawn a legion of fans, in part because of his heroism, in part because he also happens to be Latino and openly gay


In the news this morning: New tack on employers and immigration, trucker in 2003 smuggling deaths re-sentenced, Homeboy Industries gets roll

GOP to target employers who hire illegal workers - 89.3 KPCC After long pushing border enforcement, GOP leaders in the House are taking a different tack, promising to go after employers who provide an employment magnet by hiring unauthorized workers.

Opening statements set to begin today in Shawna Forde murder trial - KVOA Tucson Forde, who was part of a Minuteman group, is accused of being the ringleader behind a May 2009 home invasion in Arizona in which a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter were murdered.

Rights group’s report on immigration focuses on Kobach - Kansas City Star The Southern Poverty Law Center's report is critical of the legal and other costs involved with the anti-illegal immigration measures - among them Arizona's SB 1070 - drafted with advice from attorney and activist Kris Kobach, who recently became Kansas Secretary of State.


Why kimchi on a burger makes perfect sense

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/Flickr

A Seoul Burger with veggie patty and garlic fries, January 2011

While food bloggers and food consumers on Twitter buzzed last week over the Sushirrito (exactly what it sounds like, though only in San Francisco at the moment) I contented myself with a more humble creation from an L.A. mini-mall, that environment which never fails to produce some of our fair city's finer homegrown concoctions. And this one couldn't be more L.A.: The Korean hamburger.

Foodies who frequent Koreatown aren't strangers by now to Kalbi Burger, a tiny burger shop tucked into a strip mall at Wilshire Boulevard and Wilton Place. It opened last summer, just as I was getting my bearings moving back to town, so it had been on my to-do list a while.

Here's what's different about the burgers at Kalbi Burger, as explained in Serious Eats' burger blog A Hamburger Today:

I'm probably going to get the explanation of the name a little wrong so I encourage those in the know to give us the heads up in the comments, but I'll try to do it a modicum of justice. Kalbi Burger is named after the Korean dish most familiar to Americans: barbecue. Kalbi (or galbi) while literally meaning "rib" can actually refer to a number of different grilled dishes.

The kalbi referenced here is the Korean marinated short rib. Traditionally made with Korean soy sauce, garlic and sugar, it can also get a little kick from some rice wine, sesame oil, and chili paste. It's a savory and sweet flavor that is, quite simply, delicious. Does it work for a burger? Depends.


Recapping a weekend of Mark Sanchez stories

Photo by TexKap/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Had the New York Jets beat the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend, Mark Sanchez would have been the second Latino quarterback in NFL history to lead his team to the Super Bowl. He wasn't, and I don't follow football closely enough to get into the reasons why or what a faulty headset might have had to do with it. But the coverage surrounding Sanchez this weekend in relation to his ethnicity was interesting enough.

On Fox News Latino, sports reporter Maria Burns Ortiz, chair of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' sports task force, wrote:

Much was made when, as a quarterback at the University of Southern California, Sánchez wore a mouthguard depicting the Mexican flag. But as much as some people want to believe, it wasn’t a political statement any more than the average high school kid wearing a Ché T-shirt, or a young woman carrying a handbag bearing the image of la Virgen de Guadalupe.

It was a nod to his heritage, but it wasn’t an all-encompassing declaration of who he was.

He grew up speaking English, but speaks decent Spanish and understands it pretty well. In other words, he’s just like literally millions of other U.S. Hispanic millennials.

He’s the face of the Latino quarterback for a generation who doesn’t remember Joe Kapp or Jim Plunkett. Or, let’s be honest, for kids who don’t even realize the aforementioned players are Latino.


Featured comment: One reader's plea for 'space' in Compton

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.