How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

A search for "The Corrido of L.A."

Art by Gajin Fujita, courtesy of LACMA

Move over, Randy Newman. Los Angeles may soon have an additional theme song, and it's a corrido.

Plans are afoot to create the "The Corrido of L.A.," a song written in the traditional Mexican narrative ballad style that best captures the essence of the city, as part of a student contest. The contest, announced today, is a joint project between the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the University of Southern California and is being held to commemorate the centennial of the Mexican Revolution.

Contest judges will include the band Ozomatli, which will set the top ten entries to music and perform them Dec. 18 at Hancock Park, adjacent to LACMA.

The contest is open to students in grades 7-12 from both public and private schools throughout the city, said Ilona Katzew, curator and co-head of the museum's Latin American art department. While the song is to be written in corrido style, it may be written in any language and its subject matter is flexible, Katzew said, so long as the song invokes the city.


Latest drama in the governor's race: The undocumented ex-housekeeper

It's not a great day for the Meg Whitman campaign. The GOP gubernatorial candidate's former housekeeper, Nicandra Diaz, alleged late this morning in a press conference with attorney Gloria Allred that she spent nine years working for Whitman's family illegally and that she was fired in June 2009 after she approached the family to ask for help gaining legal status.

The Whitman campaign, meanwhile, says that Whitman was unaware that Diaz was undocumented, and has released related documents. According to the Whitman campaign, Diaz, who is alleging mistreatment, was fired after she admitted to being in the country illegally.

Immigration has been a sore spot for Whitman, who faced Democratic candidate and state attorney general Jerry Brown in a debate at UC Davis last night. Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, has faced criticism from Latino and union groups for courting Latino voters while simultaneously campaigning on an immigration platform that includes tighter border security, a ban on admissions of undocumented students to state colleges and universities, and a stated opposition to bilingual education.


Q&A: Disney intern Noor Abdallah on hijab and work

Photo courtesy of CAIR-LA

Noor Abdallah in her Disney uniform

The Muslim intern who fought Disney over her hijab, and won, is a second-generation University of Illinois senior, a psychology major and a native of the Chicago suburbs who “grew up on Disney movies.”

Noor Abdallah, 22, took the company to task this summer after arriving in Anaheim to begin an internship as a vacation planner. Upon arriving, she was informed that because she wears the traditional Islamic head scarf, known as hijab, she must take a job with less guest interaction. She was offered a stockroom job while a customized uniform was made, a wait that would take about five months.

Abdallah sought assistance from the Council on American-Islamic Relations after learning about Iman Boudial, a Moroccan immigrant and Disney worker who filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the company last month on similar grounds. Disney relented, allowing Abdallah to work in the vacation planner job. She has been working in hijab since earlier this month, wearing a blue head scarf with a beret-style hat.