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

'Something you see in East L.A.': Signage war highlights an undercurrent of L.A. life

A bus bound for East L.A. College, October 2009
A bus bound for East L.A. College, October 2009
Photo by waltarrrrr/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Have Latino residents in East Los Angeles become offended by a comment made by an Armenian American city council member in Glendale? From the looks of it, yes.

Earlier this week, while discussing a proposed plan to downsize the L.A. suburb's large business signs, Glendale city council member Ara Najarian was quoted as saying:

“It’s a matter of aesthetics...These signs are something you see in East L.A.”

And before you can say "whoops, I didn't mean it that way," a group of East L.A. residents has made plans to descend on Glendale's city council meeting tonight.

Angie Castro, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina's office, said people were calling the supervisor's office to complain. "The residents who are calling feel that this is an insult to the East L.A. community," said Castro, who helped put out a press release about the planned protest. "They are asking for an apology."

Najarian was talking about signs, of course, not the mostly Latino residents of East L.A. But the flap subtly highlights an undercurrent of Southern California life, tensions that exist between the region's diverse ethnic groups that are sometimes spoken of, but most often not.

Had a non-minority council member from a Westside or Valley suburb said the same thing, there would be equal if not greater outrage from East Angelenos and Latinos in general. But how does such a comment sit when it comes from a member of another immigrant diaspora? Thoughts?