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Chinatown

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By alisonhaddix
Words 1530
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When the United States of America first came to be a nation, it was seen as a melting pot of all cultures. As much as this was believed to be true, the cultures that were making the trek to this new nation were almost only European cultures. As time progressed, the immigrants began to come more from Eastern Europe than Western, but it was still primarily only European immigrants. These people were accepted and assimilated into the new society and culture of America and their ideals and values essentially made up the newfound American culture. Since the only prior inhabitants had been Natives, the “American” culture was essentially comprised of a combination of different European immigrants. Once the wave of Europeans calmed down, immigrants from other places began to pop up in America. These were immigrants from places not yet seen before such as Latin America and Asia. Many southeastern Asians came in through California and made it their home. Today, the influence of the Asian culture is prevalent in California and further proves how the movement of people and ideals are essentially what establish new cultural ideals within an already established society. The appeal of America was spawned by the high population densities in Southeast Asia compared to the low population densities in America. The opportunities here in America were essentially endless and of course the thought of the “American dream” also pulled many people into the country of opportunity. The western job opportunities and resources were treasures to the underdeveloped areas of Southeast Asia and caused many people to move here in search of a better life. Education is something deeply valued by Asian cultures and America offered the prospect of higher learning, bringing an opportunity for a better life. Many of these Asian immigrants were already intelligent mathematicians, engineers, etc. but found that the United States offered better resources to further their education or careers. Although their work and talent was readily accepted, their culture initially was not. The Asians, specifically Chinese in this case, formed their own world within their own borders, calling it Chinatown. These hubs were basically a place where Chinese culture could still be practiced and they did not have to feel like outsiders in a world they were not understood by, nor did they understand it. Today, Chinatown is a place enjoyed by all residents of cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, or other cities with large Chinese populations and Chinatowns of their own. While the immediate residents are still made up of primarily Chinese, people from all walks of life enjoy Chinatown and accept the culture as a part of their cities. These towns within towns have become part of the recognizable culture, and have made California a very diverse place. Not only that, but Asian Americans including Chinese, have begun to move from Chinatown into neighborhoods all around their cities. As the case is in L.A., many Asians have moved into some of the most exclusive neighborhoods and have brought their culture with them. As the already established culture became more accepting of the changes that the Asians brought with them, the more the cultures diffused into one another, creating the society that we see today. The traditional culture of these cities was initially weary of the change a new demographic brought with them but as time continued, the apprehension decreased and the Asian culture became more able to assimilate into American culture. California is now unarguably the most Asian-populous state and the culture demonstrates that statistic. Chinese restaurants have popped up all around town, not just in Chinatown, many signs display both English and Chinese, and Chinatowns have become less blocked in areas and more of places for everyone to enjoy and experience. Not only have these areas of Chinese centralization grown, but have extended beyond the borders of their original, tight confinements. Another way to see how Asian culture has diffused into American culture is the amount of Asian cuisine; stores, etc. have become popular within the States, and for our purposes, primarily California. Many popular stores, such as UNIQLO and Sanrio, which are highly popular in China and Japan, have also become local staples in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. This trend is not uncommon, and can be seen in many places where a large group of people has immigrated to a new location. As the people have relocated, they brought many aspects of their culture, including stores they frequented and foods they ate. Not only have their clothing stores become popular, but also their cuisine has become very common in California. Sushi restaurants are on nearly every corner, along with many take-out Chinese restaurants. These foods have transformed to accommodate the lifestyle of these cosmopolitans and while they are technically Asian foods, they are not what you would see if you were to go to China or Japan. While the new culture is accepting of the changes that the Asians brought with them, they had to be slightly modified to work with the already established culture. The speed of the take-out shops is an American modification on an Asian meal in order to essentially make it work here in the United States. Traits must be adapted and modified in order to accommodate a new environment, while still holding on to the original culture it embodied. Along with the many cultural foods and tastes that were brought along with the immigration of the Asians, they also brought with them their own ideals and values. Typically the Asian Americans vote democratically, which is also generally the way that the majority of the state of California votes. The values and ideas in this regard were readily accepted because it helped to promote what the Californians had shown they also promoted. The Democratic Party appealed to these immigrants by promoting education and health care, both things heavily valued by the Asian culture. The majority party in California, the democrats, easily adopted their ideals so that they could harness their growing numbers to their advantage in elections. Not only is the majority of the Asian population voting democratically, they are also choosing to run for public office, demonstrating their acceptance into society. This social and cultural similarity between the people of California and the new immigrants from Asia also helped to bind their cultures and create a new, coherent region in the Westernmost areas of the United States.
Although the culture was brought along with the Asian peoples as they made the trek to America, it was a slow coming change here across the sea. The Americans first isolated the Asian peoples, basically forcing them to form smaller towns and associating only with themselves. The original inhabitants felt that their presence was useless and did not see any benefits in accepting them into their culture nor their society. As time went on, the Asian people become a more accepted society in California and began to expand into other parts than just Chinatown. They expanded both physically and metaphorically, as their cultural traits and ideals were slowly adopted into society and they moved out from their previous barriers. The American peoples realized their ideals were not as far-fetched and dissimilar to their own as they were once believed to be, helping the Asians to assimilate into American culture. In this process, they did not lose their culture but simply modified it to make it work in their new home.
Asian culture is easily seen on the West coast and very much a part of the identity of the large cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc. As its location is the closest of any state to the Southeast Asian countries, it was an easy American destination for these people. With their relocation, they brought with them their unique culture and dreams of a better life. Although at first the inhabitants may not have been accepting of the diversity the Asian people personified, they were soon accepted and integrated into society. Today, the influence the Asian people brought with them is seen nearly everywhere. From the Asian restaurants on the street, to the influence on politics, they have definitely made their place in society and have meshed their culture into the American culture. This intertwined culture would not have been possible without the positive receptiveness of the pre-existing culture and flow of people and ideas into America, specifically California in this situation. Without the movement of people, ideas, etc. and the adaptations society must make to accept diversity, it would not be the same culture that we see today.

Chang Cindy. 2007, Feb 27. Asians Flex Muscles in California
Politics. San Francisco Chronicle. 22 Oct 2013

Crespo, Erika. May 31, 2011. Modern Appeal of Chinatown in L.A. Xinhua. World News Connection. 17 Oct 2013

Ebner, Johanna. 2005, Jan 8. Asian Culture Is Changing Mainstream America. American Sociological Association. 17 Oct 2013

Medina, Jennifer. 2013, April 28. New Suburban Dream Born of Asia And Southern California. New York Times. 23 Oct 2013

Yeo, George Yong-Boon. 1991, Nov 13. Watch Asian Influence Grow in the Pacific Century. New York Times. 22 Oct 2013.

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