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How Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Drove My Generation into Politics

By | August 10, 2017

It’s often said that California is just like America, only sooner. We confront the same issues as the rest of the nation, just earlier. Perhaps no issue exemplifies that sentiment better than immigration.
The things Donald Trump is saying about immigrants sound very familiar to those of us Californians who have been involved with immigration issues for the better part of our adult lives. Substitute …

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The LAPD Is Here to Protect and Serve Immigrants, Not Help ICE Deport Them

By | August 9, 2017

Given the history of our City and our Department, the Los Angeles Police Department makes it a priority to build relationships with our diverse communities.
Since last November’s election, and the widespread protests and fears we’ve seen and heard in its aftermath, we’ve had to step up relationship-building and do even more, especially in our immigrant communities where the anxiety has been greatest.
That has meant a …

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While ICE Tries to Deport My Father, My Family Stays Strong

By | August 9, 2017

My life has drastically changed since February 28, 2017, when my father was arrested by ICE agents as part of President Trump’s effort to fulfill his campaign promise to deport immigrants with criminal records. While my dad sits in a detention center, I wake up every morning with an upset stomach and a nervous, worrisome feeling. I describe it as like getting knocked down by …

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Emojis Don’t Give Meaning to Our Deepest Feelings

By | August 7, 2017

It’s been 35 years since Scott Fahlman, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, urged users of an online bulletin board to add two character sequences to their messages: ‘:-)’ to mark jokes; and ‘:-(‘ to indicate the preceding text was not meant humorously. The smiley (or emoticon) was born.
A mythology grew up around the importance of inserting graphic elements at the ends of written …

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What the “Crowd-Work” Economy Taught Me About Community

By | August 4, 2017

If you’ve never heard of Amazon Mechanical Turk, my workplace of the last 11 years, you’re not alone. Most people know about Amazon—the massive conglomerate where you can do everything from buy a book to put your online store into the cloud. Fewer know about Mechanical Turk, the crowd-work platform Amazon owns and runs. But mTurk is worth knowing about. Amazon claims that more than …

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How Southern Rock Reclaims Regional Identity While Facing Down Old Ghosts

By | August 2, 2017

The South spawned rock ’n’ roll. Some scholars pin its arrival to the first week of March, 1951, in Memphis, Tennessee. There, in the studio run by record producer, label chief, and talent scout Sam Phillips, the rhythm-and-blues bandleader Ike Turner cut a jump-blues inspired paean to “oozin and cruisin’” in a sleek black convertible called “Rocket 88.” Phillips, of course, would later discover Elvis …

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Why Building More Freeways Makes Traffic Worse, Not Better

By | August 1, 2017

In 1865, British economist William Stanley Jevons wrote an influential essay entitled “The Coal Question.” Today his insights are interesting to me not as they relate to coal, but rather as they relate to me sitting in the legendary traffic of the 405 freeway in Los Angeles during my morning commute.
Jevons’ observations on coal also have something to say about the Oshiya (train pushers) who …

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How African Americans Emerged from Slavery with a Hunger for Education

By | July 28, 2017

The focus of my research and writing is women’s involvement in higher education, especially women from the Pentecostal and Holiness faith traditions. While conducting research on African American female seminaries, I found myself reaching back to a very rich yet little-known history of educational efforts by African Americans both during and after slavery. The narratives of those days should remind us just how stubborn and …

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How This Journalist Is Surviving Mexico’s Drug Wars

By | July 26, 2017

In early 2007 I lost a plane ticket that I had purchased to travel to Africa. My plan was to arrive in Nairobi and stay two months, since the World Social Forum was scheduled to be held there in February of that year. I hoped to obtain some interesting insights, as well as personal contacts that would let me take the first steps toward becoming …

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Why California’s Greatest Historian, Kevin Starr, Couldn’t Get Elected in San Francisco

By | July 25, 2017

Kevin Starr is widely regarded as California’s pre-eminent historian—a prolific author and public intellectual for nearly 50 years—and his death earlier this year generated much writing about his life and scholarship. But one episode in his life was not widely known or much remembered: his race for San Francisco Supervisor in 1984.
I was a volunteer in that campaign, and got to see firsthand how …

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