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East Los

Mural on East Cesar E. Chavez Avenue

Drive East across the bridge over the concrete-walled Los Angeles River and you will find yourself in a reasonable simulacrum of a Mexican city. Boyle Heights used to be the city’s Jewish neighborhood, and there is the massive Breed Street Shul still remaining. If you have a hankering for some tacos muy sabrosos, you are in the right place.

East Cesar E. Chavez Avenue is the heart of “East Los,” short for East Los Angeles. Of course, over time, the Mexican population has scattered all over the county, but there are still some special places around the Avenue. Like La Parrilla, at Chavez and Detroit, probably my favorite Mexican restaurant in Southern California. Like the Anthony Quinn Library (I’ll bet you didn’t know that Quinn was Mexican). Like ELAC, East Los Angeles College, with some 35,000 students.

We tend to treat American Hispanics as if they were a cohesive voting bloc. The 2020 election gave the lie to the Democrat assumption that Hispanic voters were all for Biden. Not so. Their votes were all over the place. I learned that when I fell for a Chilean cutie named Valentina Palacios back in the 1970s, only to find that she was a supporter of tyrannical dictator Augusto Pinochet Ugarte.

And what is a Hispanic anyway? They could include Mexicans, Cubans, Spanish, South Americans, Central Americans, Puerto Ricans, and even some Filipinos. I remember being in an anti-Viet Nam war demonstration back in the 1960s and being attacked by rightist anti-Castro Cuban immigrants. We have to get used to seeing the Hispanic population as a broad spectrum.

And whatever we do, me must stop using terms like LatinX, which leaves a stench in the nostrils of most Hispanics.

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