In October 1966—50 years ago—Chinese leader Mao Zedong appeared on Tiananmen Square in Beijing to address an audience of 1.5 million Red Guards, the paramilitary youth he had called upon to tear down the Communist Party hierarchy. “Long live the Red Guards!” he shouted, to roars of approval. “Long live the great Cultural Revolution!”
That spring, Mao first called for a “Cultural Revolution,” urging the working class to “struggle against and crush those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road” and “criticize and repudiate…the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes.”
America’s cities may be home to individuals belonging to thousands of cultural groups and myriad socioeconomic statuses. But these urban centers are surprisingly no melting pot. As Nate Silver pointed out in several infographics,diverse cities are often the most segregated, especially at the neighborhood level.
To add to this gloomy reality, today’s urban developers often use subtle tactics to keep cities economically and racially divided. “The fair housing laws passed in the last half-century have forced racists to devise whole new methods of discrimination, subtler but serving the same purpose: to keep people of color out of ‘white’ spaces,” author Daniel Kolitz wrote on the online culture publication Hopes & Fears.
Incomes for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have failed to keep up with the rising cost of living, a troubling trend that has caused displacement, overcrowding, and homelessness for thousands of low-income families, according to a report to be released Wednesday.
Compiled by the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, the report surveyed 15 AAPI and Native Hawaiian neighborhoods across eight states and the District of Columbia. It found, among other things, that tenants and small businesses were most susceptible to being displaced, while some families whose businesses and jobs have served wealthier new residents have fared better economically than low-income AAPIs.
The National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) released Our Neighborhoods: Asian American & Pacific Islander Anti-Displacement Strategies at their report launch today. This timely report highlights twenty-four innovative strategies used by community-based organizations across the country to address the increasing displacement of residents and small businesses in their neighborhoods, using the local context as a springboard for federal policy recommendations.
While gentrification can be very good at improving the attractiveness and safety of low income neighborhoods, it is also placing ethnic enclaves increasingly under threat of total destruction. People move into cultural enclaves, especially Chinatowns, in order to maintain a connection to their home culture, language, and people. Immigration tends to produce an intense culture shock. Living in an ethnic enclave softens that blow, and makes overall assimilation easier over the long term. Living in an ethnic enclave can allow you to open businesses that cater to that particular group that would not be successful any where else. While they don’t make impressive amounts of money, they do make enough to support themselves, their families, and a small group of employees. It even allows these enclaves to maintain their native languages. That is, until gentrification begins.