Saturday, August 13, 2016

Little Vietnam

Usually I am writing about the Changes in Chinatown... which is related to Asian communities elsewhere as well. Today I am going to talk about Fields Corner. Because I happened to get a Cape Verdean perspective on this today. Actually, a couple Cape Verdean perspectives.. and I did not even realize that right near there or around there, is the Cape Verdean neighborhood in Boston.

Today is when I learned that there was a petition to actually change the name fo Fields Corner, on the Station stop, to "Little Vietnam."

"I though there were a bunch of other ethnic groups mixed in there though?" I said this, thinking about passing out New Year card invitations for Lion Dancing years ago.

"Nah, anything that closes down, they snatch right up. I mean I think they deserve it, to change the name. I mean if they got it. They're doing good. The neighborhood looks better now. But mad people were against it."

"Yo what is this shit! Look at this? This whole block is owned by them. You know how they got it now? They don't even care, they'll pay like $700,000.00 for a house just to hold onto it for the rent. Which is smart because think about it, it's like your bank.. but damn.."

What this did for me is look at things in a new light because after all that is a similar reaction, in different phrasing, that a lot of Chinese have about what is happening in Chinatown. But in Chinatown, you call it Gentrification. Which implies that it is white people moving in. You can't say just people with money... because the people cashing out have money now too don't they? And when the community becomes more and more Vietnamese... you wouldn't call that gentrification either, even though again, the people buying the properties must have money to do that investment.

Chinatown was not as big before and a good part of those buildings belonged to other ethnic groups... specifically Syrian Jews. But it wasn't so much that they were pushed out as they moved out, to Brookline.
Roxbury used to be Jewish too.

Now, this being the Chinatown blog, I still say be careful about people saying that Chinatown will always be here and that you can't compare Boston to D.C. and all that. Boston's Chinatown could be gone pretty quick. All it would take is three or for handshakes and contract. Boom. Done. And all you have is the gate, and the Non profits and the organizations... which would not really be Chinatown anymore but what is left of it, like the Polish American Association in Dorchester staring out at the highway.

But it's not necessarily a bad thing. To look at it from a Buddhist philosophy... change is part of life.. and if you can't accept this... then you will suffer.

Indeed the JP community lobbied hard to call itself the Latin Quarter. Something that is really to fight gentrification. However, the way it was viewed on Twitter could be summed up in a quote. "Gentrification... complete." That comment was a lack of awareness or a failure to have seen the meeting about giving JP that name.

But in many ways, there is some truth to that.

Littel Vietnam can get it's de facto neighborhood and even a name, making it ideal real estate property.. and then? The same thing may happen that is happening in Chinatown. Big towers of Condos. All it takes is convenience... and Fields Corner is right next to the red line which can take you Downtown and to the Financial district... a neighborhood which has been dead for while because of one man's plan to buy the whole thing up cheap and then build... which means that eventually, yes it will be built back up, and under the control of one person... kind of like Disney Land.

This stuff happens. In some ways it is horrible. But in the end... there are probably good things about it, too. It depends on how you look at it.

(Also for the record.. a good deal of the Vietnamese in Dorchester are ethnically Chinese. Perhaps I should explain this in another post.)

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