A few months ago I wrote an article regarding immigration, and it sparked a bit of controversy–naturally. One of the comments had to do with my opinion on how diverse Los Angeles is. A person, claiming to be a conservative told me that was not true. “Los Angeles is far from being diverse”, he said. It was a comment that really didn’t amount to anything, but the more I walked around—the more I realized. He was right. Los Angeles County is not diverse in ethnicity. If anything, Los Angeles County is segregated, and all the parties involved are comfortable with it. Allow me to explain.
To the people that live outside of California, Los Angeles depicts a place of sunshine, beautiful women, celebrities, Sunset Blvd. and some crazy-kooky people. Actually, Los Angeles County is made up of 88 cities and towns, and it has a population of over 18 million people. Just to put things in prospective, the State population is close to 39 million people. L.A. County has close to half the States population. The County is also split up in four sections. There is the San Fernando Valley, which is commonly referred to as “The Valley”. There is East L.A.—made popular by Cheech & Chong. There is South/South Central L.A., and there is the trendy West L.A. or West Hollywood area.
The Valley consists of the cities of Van Nuys, Reseda, Canoga Park, Pacoima, Panorama City, as well as many more. These areas are not trendy, with the exception of Encino and Sherman Oaks. The Valley area consists of a large majority of Mexicans. A majority–that is in upwards of 75%. Similarly, East Los Angeles is the same. It is not that trendy, and it shares a large Mexican majority. What is also similar is that most businesses are owned by Spanish speaking people, and the English language sort of takes a back seat. In contrast, the cities of Compton and Watts located in South Central L.A. are occupied by an upwards of 80% African-Americans.
Then—there is West L.A. This is where all the “magic happens”. The streets are clean, the women are amazing to look at, and most people drive the expensive cars. I’m talking about the cities of Brentwood, Brentwood Village, Pacific Palisades, Westwood, Santa Monica as well as Echo Park. Now, this area is predominately white. Again–in upwards of 80%. One would seldom see a Mexican face in the crowd. Why is it that a person of Mexican heritage is so hard to find in West L.A., but 20 miles north on the 405 there is 80% of Mexicans? The answer is actually simple; it’s all about jobs.
As mentioned earlier, the pre-dominate language in the Valley is Spanish, and in order for an American to get a job in the Valley they must be bi-lingual. Most of the manufacturing facilities are located in the valley, and most of the workers do not speak English. Ninety-five percent of all the employees at a local aerospace company in Pacoima are Mexican, and they can’t speak English. Most of the company meetings are conducted in Spanish, and there are very few Americans that work there. The sad thing is that the Mexican workers receive a wage that is slightly higher than minimum wage. Their American counterparts, on the other hand, can receive an extra $3 an hour.
Why is this? It’s not like the Mexicans can’t do the job. They are actually very good at performing, and this isn’t a job that doesn’t require any skill. This is a machinist job. A job that usually pays in upwards of $20 an hour, however the Mexican is getting $9 an hour. These people work 10 hours a day/7 days a week. Surprisingly, they are pretty happy with what they earn, and when asked if they would like to leave for another job that pays more—they give me the same answer. “Good paying jobs require me to speak English, and I can’t speak English”. I would often tell them—in Spanish—that speaking English is easy. They would strongly disagree. It’s hard for me to understand how hard it is to speak English, because I have spoken this all my life. I have often been blessed with the opportunity, as well–an opportunity of living in a nice neighborhood. Also–an opportunity of being able to navigate around a computer, to surf the internet, and being able to do something as simple as navigate a Smartphone.
This is the way I see it: Certain companies will hire and let their employees speak Spanish, in an effort to suppress their wages, so they can’t afford to live in the affluent neighborhoods–the neighborhoods that are in the very affluent West Los Angeles area.
These immigrants come into this Country to live the American dream, and they don’t realize that there is the possibility of becoming more. Opportunity is there if they want it. The sad thing is that imposing the English language on people has become a hot-button issue. Just by bringing up the topic it evokes a certain distain, and often times name calling.
Call me cynical, but I firmly believe that this is the reason why the Government will never solve the immigration problem in America. Let’s face it—there is a problem. It is real, and it is in our faces, but when we allow private business to victimize a certain class of people we must rise up and say it is wrong. However, I believe that as long as business threatens to ship jobs overseas this will be the status quo.