How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Michele Norris's 'The Grace of Silence:' the conundrum of racism and what isn't said

Tomorrow I'll be interviewing Michele Norris, co-host of NPR's All Things Considered, about her recently published memoir, The Grace of Silence. It's a powerful book that began as an exploration of race and the unspoken conversations surrounding it in the United States. It turned, instead, into a deeply intimate account of all that was left unsaid about race, including painful secrets, within her own family.

The book raises some uncomfortable questions, one of which arises in a passage, below, in which Norris describes leading her ill father through an airport en route home from an out-of-town hospital, and the reaction of two white women (in satin jackets, hence "satin dolls") to her black father's slurred speech:

When my dad tried to lean toward me to ask a question, his words sputtered forth like bricks tumbling from a shelf. The satin dolls found it hard to mind their own business. They stared and pointed every time Dad attempted to speak. They didn't try to hide their disparagement, one of them harrumphing loud enough for anyone to hear, "Goodness sakes, it's not even noon yet!"

After spending a lifetime trying to be a model minority - one of the few black men in his neighborhood, at his workplace, or on his daughters' school committees - my father now sat facing the condemnation of two blond scolds. They had apparently concluded that he was an early morning lush instead of a gray-haired man fighting a losing battle with a devastating disease.

Here is the conundrum of racism. You know it's there, but you can't prove it, beyond a reasonable doubt, how it colors a particular situation. Those pink satin ladies were strangers to me, so I have no idea if they would have been as quick to judge a gray-haired white man with impaired speech. However, I do know this: the fact that they were white women added mightily to my father's humiliation.


Report: If they could, some U.S. Latinos would rather live elsewhere

Source: Gallup

The results of a Gallup study released yesterday show that if some of the nation's Latinos could live elsewhere, they would. Based on a telephone survey of 1,000 Latino adults, the new study shows that more than one in seven, or an estimated 4 million, would leave the United States if they could.

According to Gallup, 52 percent said they would prefer to live in a Latin American country if it were possible, including nearly a third who indicated Mexico. Others would like to be in Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom and other nations outside of Latin America.

Those who would rather live elsewhere are more likely to be foreign-born and struggling with finances, language and culture, according to the study. The results reflect how while the United States may be a land of opportunity, life here is not without its struggles, especially for many newcomers. From the report:


In the news this morning: Another Arizona-style law, a tragic adoption-deportation case, racial obstacles for the GOP, more

Texas Immigration Law Under Proposal Would Resemble Arizona's Hard-Line Approach - Huffington Post A proposed immigration law in Texas closely resembles Arizona's controversial statute.

Zoltan Hajnal: The GOP's Racial Challenge - Wall Street Journal On the party's continuing lack of appeal for minorities, which could present future problems.

Adopted boy at center of immigration dispute - St. Louis Post-Dispatch A Guatemalan woman who lost custody of her baby after she was detained during a poultry-plant raid in 2007 is trying to get her son, now four, back after a couple adopted him. She faces deportation.

San Francisco supervisors call for release of student facing deportation - San Jose Mercury News Chinese-American, Peruvian-raised college student Shing Ma "Steve" Li faces deportation to Peru, while his parents face deportation to China. The family's political asylum bid was rejected.


Immigrants and the 'new maturity' of L.A.

A report released last week by Cal State Los Angeles' Pat Brown Institute contains an interesting section about immigration and the "new maturity" of Los Angeles, examining the interwoven relationship between immigrants who settle in Los Angeles, the children they raise here, and the city's changing face as native-born Angelenos become the majority and the city's post-World War II baby boom generation reaches retirement age.

The multi-part report is called Los Angeles 2010: State of the City, and also includes sections on issues such as water use, transportation and local politics. In a lecture today at the University of Southern California, report co-author Dowell Myers, a professor and urban growth specialist with USC's School of Policy, Planning, and Development, lectured on his research for the immigration portion.