I write about immigration, race, and cities. I'm a Next City equitable cities fellow and USC Annenberg journalism news fellow for 2018-19.
Can racism play a role in infant mortality? Riverside County helps black mothers find support, community
The nearly 30-year-old Black Infant Health program is the state of California’s response to address the gaps in infant mortality deaths that continue to disproportionately affect the black community.
Years ago, Black Infant Health programs primarily focused on getting individual black women into prenatal care. Now, state health officials are focusing on a more group-based and holistic approach exploring how racism, not race, can contribute to the early death of black infants.
Marilynn Montaño, who works as a barista in the downtown area, documents the closure of long-time businesses — including quinceañera boutiques — by posting photos of the empty shops on Instagram.
In one photo, she features a young woman wearing a quinceañera dress, posing in front of an empty boutique. A yellow, handwritten sign declares the shop has moved to Huntington Park.
“I started to document them because, in a couple years, this is just going to be a memory to someone,” said Montaño, 25.
“We don’t consider these quinceañera shops, the people who make these dresses, as also artists. When we say support artists, we think of visual artists at galleries, but they’re also artists. They’re also makers."
It’s not so unusual for tourists to flock to Compton to get a glimpse of the hip-hop culture with which the city is still largely associated.
Not long ago, Geoffrey Martinez, 39, of Compton, came across two tourists visiting from the Netherlands who wanted to see the city they knew from references in the Grand Theft Auto video game.
They wound up at the independent coffee house that Martinez recently opened in Compton.
“When they were there, they were shocked,” says Martinez.
“My parents have always told (us) opportunities are anywhere. They brought us to this country because it was supposedly the land of opportunity,” said Karla Estrada, 26, of Los Angeles. “But if we find opportunity in another place, our country is wherever our feet take us,” she said.
In recent years, #CentralAmericanTwitter has emerged as an online space to fill the void of decades of invisibility. As President Donald Trump threatens the futures of Central Americans in and outside the U.S. through policy or by describing deported immigrants as “animals,” this online space is now starting to take physical shape.
It’s the children of Central American immigrants who are finding places to break through the Mexican-dominated landscape, lift up their own identities, and challenge the mainstream idea of what it means to be Central American.
Texas Senate Bill 4, commonly referred to as the “show me your papers” law, allows police officers to check immigration status of those they arrest. The law has faced several legal challenges, but remains in effect.
“We recognized that we need to go beyond the normal idea of a sanctuary city in Texas,” Councilman Casar says.
In Austin, this has emerged in a set of recent city council resolutions that address racial disparities in law enforcement arrests and that target the way police officers interact with the immigrant community.
In recent years, food businesses have been thriving so much they’ve been seen by some as “a new path to prosperity for kids of immigrants.” Women of color, however, are often left out of the industry, making it hard for female food creatives to find a community on whom they can rely.
By outward appearances, many wouldn’t immediately guess that Parrish — a white native-English speaker born in South Africa — is part of a program whose recipients in California mostly hail from Mexico and Central America.
For Parrish, his identity gives him an unusual perspective on what it means to be undocumented under the Trump administration.
“It is amazing how accepting people are when you look like one of their own,” said Parrish, who is studying math at Cal State San Bernardino.
Parrish’s immigration status, however, like that of other DACA recipients, remains in limbo.
Ramon Ruiz Ortiz's case is one that Southern California immigration advocates signaled as a shift in enforcement. He was an undocumented immigrant with no criminal record who was deported when his application to adjust his legal status was denied. Previously, people who did not qualify were just denied, not deported.
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi smiled as she stood at a podium in San Francisco last week and described young, undocumented immigrants as “our VIPs.”
But the House Democratic leader wasn’t even finished speaking when dozens of very loud young people walked in. They shouted demands and took over the press conference.
Her smile gone, Pelosi appeared shaken.
“For a long time, we’ve been fighting the fight for the Dreamers,” she tried to interject.
“We are not Dreamers!” some shouted back.
Young and undocumented, yes. Just don’t call them "Dreamers."
Rent strikes are emerging across Los Angeles and across the country as the price to live in cities continues to rise. More than a handful of rent strikes are occurring in neighborhoods across Los Angeles alone. Many renters say they’ve been inspired by a group of mariachis living near Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights who successfully reached an agreement with the building’s owner to remain in place after going on rent strike.
Ramon Ruiz Ortiz of Moreno Valley went to San Bernardino’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office at 10 a.m. May 11 to interview for a green card giving him permanent residency. By 7 p.m., he’d been deported to Tijuana.
Now, his family and an attorney representing the Mexican Consulate in San Bernardino are trying to figure out what happened to the man they describe as a hard-working husband and father with no criminal record. They contend he should not have been deported.
“When I first started singing this type of music, many African-Americans would laugh at me and there were many times when I didn’t want to go to school,” Lowery said in Spanish.
“They would call me a ‘wanna-be Mexican,’” added Lowery. “I don’t want to be Mexican. I can never be Mexican, but I have my respects for Mexican people and for the music.”
With prototypes of the border wall in place, both Mexicans and Californians are talking about Trump’s plan
President Donald Trump’s self-described “big, beautiful” border wall is taking shape with eight 30-foot prototypes rising in San Diego — stark barriers that have not impressed those living on the Tijuana side of the Mexican border.
Visually, the prototypes are offensive, said Maria Elena Valenzuela, 40, who was born in San Diego and grew up on both sides of the Tijuana border. “They’re horrible,” she said.