June 4, 2007
Written by C.N.
As I’ve written about before, assimilation can come in many different forms these days. In the past, assimilation usually meant the immigrant or “newcomer” group had to conform to virtually all aspects of the majority culture in order to be accepted. However, as American society and the world in general becomes increasingly globalized and transnational, the rules have changed. And as the New York Times reports, at the forefront of these changes are Asian Americans such as those in the Queens borough of New York City:
Pitched battles have been fought over language in Flushing, whose white ethnic population has receded as Korean and Chinese immigrants have arrived. In the late 1980s, when City Councilwoman Julia Harrison proposed a bill requiring businesses to post signs in English, a public divide seemed to open: On one side were the waves of Asian newcomers; on the other, longtime residents who felt displaced and alienated. . . .
So on a rainy Wednesday evening, she was back in the basement room of the Queens housing project where two dozen adults gather every week to learn Mandarin. The free classes at the James A. Bland Houses draw a motley assortment of students; the current session includes an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, a black woman who grew up in the housing project and the practical-minded daughter of Hungarian immigrants.
They have in common these two attributes: They have lived in Flushing since before it was Asian, and they have decided that the time has come to adapt. “Kind of like, ‘If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,’ ” said Ms. Farren, whose Italian-American relatives cannot fathom why she hasn’t left for New Jersey.
As the article describes, there are still several obstacles on the road to full acceptance of how “Asian American” Queens has become. There are many residents — new and longtime, and of all races and ethnicities — who are still resistant to the demographic and cultural realities surrounding them. Nonetheless, it is gratifying to see that increasing, there seem to be many more residents who are embracing these trends and realize that Asian Americans add to Queens’ vibrant culture, rather than detracting from it.
Like I keep saying, assimilation comes in many forms these days.
Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved.
Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Asianization of Queens, New York" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/06/asianization-of-queens-new-york/> ().
Short URL: http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/?p=437
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