The Los Angeles Times and journalist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas are launching a multimedia venture called #EmergingUS that will explore race and the evolving American identity.
Vargas, a Filipino citizen, garnered national attention after the New York Times Magazine published an essay he wrote in 2011 revealing that he had been brought to the U.S. illegally when he was a child.
A former reporter at the Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle, Vargas has since championed stories about immigrants in the U.S., including the estimated 11 million who are in the country illegally.
“A multicultural society is one of the defining issues of our time,” said Austin Beutner, publisher and chief executive of the Los Angeles Times.
No city in America offers a better springboard for exploring those issues than Los Angeles, Beutner said.
“In many respects, it’s what America will look like in 10 or 20 years,” he said.
#EmergingUS, which uses a hashtag to encourage conversations on social media, will include commentary and original video, graphics and other digital content. Commentary may also run in print on The Times’ Op-Ed page.
Among the topics Vargas and his team will explore is how white Americans in the region are faring as a new minority amid the rise of Latino and Asian American populations.
“Too often, when we talk about race in political and cultural terms, it’s framed as a white-and-black issue,” said Vargas, 34. “But it’s white and black and Latino and Asian and Middle Eastern. It’s Native Americans, who are too often forgotten. It’s interracial Americans.”
Vargas was among a team of reporters who won a Pulitzer Prize for the Washington Post’s coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting massacre in 2007. He directed “Documented,” which tells the story of his journey, starting as a 12-year-old arriving in the U.S. from the Philippines, to his place today as a leading voice on immigration.
Vargas is currently a producer for MTV’s “Look Different” campaign, a film project airing later this year exploring what it means to be young and white in America.
Content from #EmergingUS is expected to be released online and in print by the spring, Beutner said.