How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

'The landscape we'll be exploring,' revisited

Photo by Joe Goldberg/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A good late morning to all.

I'm getting off to a later start today after spending part of the morning going through older posts, a little prep work for a year-end report. And while doing so I came across this initial post from July, when this blog was launched, in which I described what Multi-American was setting out to do:

Our goal is to explore Southern California’s evolving identity as a place where the cultural landscape is constantly being shaped and reshaped by immigrants, their children and grandchildren, with each new generation contributing its own brand of American identity to the mix.

We’ll report on the immigration debate, and on the policies and politics that affect Southern California residents as they play out in their communities, but also something broader: on immigration as a topic that defines our regional identity. What New York was to the 19th century, Southern California is to the 21st. This is the landscape we’ll be exploring.


No House vote on Armenian genocide resolution

Photo by Clinton Steeds/Flickr (Creative Commons)

An East Hollywood mural painted in memory of the Armenian genocide, February 2007

A hoped for last-minute House vote on a resolution that would have officially recognized the Armenian genocide of nearly a century ago didn't happen today, as representatives adjourned for the holidays without a floor vote. Here's an excerpt from KPCC Washington correspondent Kitty Felde's story this afternoon on House Resolution 252:

Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff cosponsored the resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide. He acknowledges that the resolution is largely symbolic, but he says it’s very important to the families of people who lost relatives. "Elie Wiesel, the holocaust survivor has said that the denial of genocide is the last chapter of genocide. And you only need to speak to a family of survivors of the Armenian genocide to understand the truth of those words."

Schiff – whose district includes parts of heavily Armenian Glendale - says the failure of the US government to officially recognize the genocide undermines its human rights efforts elsewhere in the world.


Tamales: Tales, tips, and a recipe

Photo by Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

Patricia Zarate, manager of Homegirl Café, readies a batch of tamales. December 2010

The Latino culture site Remezcla tweeted this today:

Food of the Year: Tamales

Okay, so maybe it's a stretch. But tamales are the food of the moment, at least in much of Los Angeles, where people are in different stages of making them, ordering them, eating way too many of them, and swearing they won't eat another one again for a whole year.

I personally haven't reached that point yet, but the day will come.

For those who have yet to hit the masa wall, here are a couple of tamal tales for a rainy day, plus some tips and a recipe thrown in for good measure.

My KPCC colleague Adolfo Guzman-Lopez recently visited downtown L.A.'s Homegirl Café to report on the Homeboy Industries offshoot's intensified holiday tamal production. A quote from the cafe manager:

"The shift is beginning right now and we’ll be here at least 8 hours, from 8 to 10 hours, just to supply tomorrow’s orders. Because of the holidays we have plenty of orders. We will be making about 4 to 500 tamales tonight," she said.


Mapping the nation by race, income and more

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The U.S. Census Bureau has yet to release specific data on race and ethnicity for the 2010 census, the initial results of which were released yesterday. But in the meantime, a new interactive mapping project put together by the New York Times helps make fascinating sense of who lives where.

Called "Mapping America: Every City, Every Block," the recently released maps do just that, using 2005-2009 data compiled from the census' American Community Survey. There are maps for race and ethnicity, income, housing and families, and education.

The scale of the project is impressive, in part because it drills down the nation's population makeup literally to street level. Punch South Los Angeles' 90001 ZIP code into the search tool and a map of starkly contrasting dots representing the area's tense mix of Latino (yellow dots) and African American (blue dots) residents comes into view, with each dot representing 25 people. Enter the same ZIP code into the income map, and you get a sobering sense of how many households there survive on less than $30,000 a year.


In the news this morning: Lowered expectations for immigration reform, SB 1070 and the census, red states' Latino political wild card and mo

Immigration overhaul: Obama, Latino lawmakers take pragmatic view - Los Angeles Times Prospects for a broad overhaul have dimmed, the president and Latino lawmakers agreed Tuesday; a more realistic goal will be to avoid legislation that targets undocumented immigrants.

Arizona immigration law: Population analysts clash over bill's impact - Arizona Republic Demographic analysts are at odds as to whether SB 1070 affected the state's population count in this year's census by pushing people to leave. The debate over the law didn't peak until just before the law was signed April 23; the census counted residents as of April 1.

The new census data may favor Republicans, but long-term demographic trends favor Democrats - Slate Red states won in population counts and additional House representation, but the fact that many of these states also have large populations of Latinos - a majority of whom tend to vote Democratic - presents a different scenario.