Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

That cringing feeling when the bad news involves 'one of us'

I've counted two bad-news-for-Latinos headlines making the rounds this week so far, including this one from columnist Esther Cepeda published in the Sacramento Bee. Unlike today's HuffPo year-in-review piece on all the bad news that hit Latinos in 2011, Cepeda's essay gets into that icky feeling associated with hearing things like, for example, police describing the Black Friday pepper-spraying shopper as "a Hispanic woman. As Cepeda puts it, ugh.

"Why, oh why," she writes of the general feeling, "did the perpetrator have to be 'one of us'?"

Cepeda writes about times this year that she cringed upon hearing stories and last names of suspects that reinforce "a certain public sentiment." She also points out bright moments like the spotlighting of Arizona's "hero intern" Daniel Hernandez, credited with saving the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during last January's deadly shooting rampage there. She writes:

Obviously, countless Latinos overcame barriers to become professionals, showed courage under fire, healed the sick, comforted the poor and otherwise made the world a better place this year.

But the seemingly never-ending stream of negative stories involving Latinos " crime, illegal immigration, lagging educational achievement and poverty " will always eclipse good news because humans' insatiable love of conflict and villains tends to center around race, ethnicity and gender.

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