Sfdb, wuqijun, ELT1, BAGB, I appreciate yout thoughts. It took me a while to think through how to articulate this -
I dislike the mentality of entitlement that comes about from long-term enjoyment of rent control. Worse yet, I despise it when ethnicity gets thrown into the mix — both subtle and overt implication that those who try to clean up the ghetto aspects of Ctown (like the hanging laundry or hocking lugies) are somehow not respecting the “historical context” of Chinatown.
I find that embracing this line of reasoning just perpetuates a 360 degree loop of poverty. As well, I find this to be fairly lazy - it isn’t like the 1880s anymore where racism made it impossible to survive outside Chinatown. Heck, as early ad the 1960s things had already changed big time - you could integrate with the rest of society.
We talk about industriousness (the old lady picking up recycling) - yes I find that to be industrious as well, but in a way that embraces the comfort zone and in a way that is dishonest to the purpose of coming to a new country to begin with. Look, you took a huge risk and left your country and went to a new one. That journey of risk taking doesnt stop once you arrive - it starts once you arrive. Now you have to adapt — don’t be lazy.
Sfdb, as far as my background goes, it is the same as yours. My folks were immigrants as well. They also spoke almost no English. But they settled in the midwest where there was no Chinese support network. They survived on factory work - and now they are true Americans. They speak English, kind of. They hang out w their caucasian neighbors and grill out of July 4th. But I see them, and they see themselves as integrated into American society in a way that I see Chinatown has not. And when folks in Chinatown resist integration today on arguments surrounding “historical character” or “ethnic context,” I see it as a whole ball of entitlement, refusal-to-go-out-of-comfort-zone, and self-imposed-exile all in one.