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

Posts of the week: The Trayvon Martin case, how being bilingual makes you smarter, media diversity, generation 1.5 and more

Photo by Reigh LeBlanc/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The tragic shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and how race factored into it has dominated the headlines this week. But there's also been good news (being bilingual can make you smarter!) and an unexpected call for media diversity from, of all places, Los Angeles City Hall. Without further ado, a few of the week's highlights:


Your brain on a second language: Bilingualism and brain power More evidence that speaking a second language boosts brain power. According to research, the mental focus it takes to switch from communicating in one language to another is a "workout" for the brain that improves cognitive and problem-solving skills, and can even delay the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms.


With shooter's ethnicity, race becomes an even bigger part of the Trayvon Martin story A recent development in the case involving the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black boy shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida, was that the shooter, George Zimmerman, is half Latino. There were some interesting reactions to this online, including from some non-Latino whites who had felt scapegoated.


Gen 1.5: Where an immigrant generation fits in The experience of young people who arrive in the United States as children and adolescents is a unique one in immigrant diasporas. In some immigrant communities, they are expected to be bridge-builders and generational liaisons. How old they were upon arrival, along with where they grow up, their immigration status and other factors helps determine who they become and how they identify. The story of generation 1.5 will be the focus of an upcoming panel next week at KPCC in Pasadena, open to the public.


L.A. city officials wade into media diversity A resolution passed by the Los Angeles City Council earlier this week urged media outlets to stay away from "sexist and racist slurs" in light of a recent on-air controversy surrounding KFI 640 AM's "The Jon and Ken Show." But interestingly, it also suggests that media outlets work harder to hire more minorities as staff and on-air talent.


Where race matters in the Trayvon Martin case, and where it doesn't The news that George Zimmerman, the shooter in the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, is half Latino doesn't really change anything about the case. But the revelation that Zimmerman doesn't fit neatly into what many people think of as "white" triggers questions about how we identify and perceive race, how racial prejudice and profiling works, and whether the color or ethnicity of a profiler matters.