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Asian Americans Today and Community Activism Sucheng Chan Yen Le Espiritu Steve Park “The Fall of the I-Hotel”

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Asian americans today and community activism l.jpg

Asian Americans Today and Community Activism

Sucheng Chan

Yen Le Espiritu

Steve Park

“The Fall of the I-Hotel”


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Assignment for Thursday1. Reading Espiritu and Park2. Bring in or identify something that you think is an example of an Asian American cultural production (art, music, performance, video, cartoons, etc.) to share with the class . . . You will be invited to share what it is and relate it to ideas from the readings.


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What are the five largest Asian ethnic groups in the U.S. in the order of their population size?


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How does the population of Asian Americans compare with that of other ethnic/racial minorities in the U.S.? CA?


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Median Family Income By Ethnic Group


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Median Family Income by Ethnicity and Gender


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Poverty Rates


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Per Capita Income in 1999 by Ethnic Background

Total Population

$21,587

Total

Asian

$21,823

Total NHPI

$15,054

Other Asian

$20,699

Asian Indian

$27,514

Hmong

$6,600

Pakistani

$18,096

Bangladeshi

$13,971

Indonesian

$18,932

Samoan

$12,160

Cambodian

$10,366

Japanese

$30,075

Sri Lankan

$27,428

Chamorro

$17,583

Korean

$18,805

Taiwanese

$25,890

Chinese

$23,756

Laotian

$11,830

Thai

$19,066

Filipino

$25,890

Malaysian

$19,895

Tongan

$10,680

Fijian

$14,745

Native Hawaiian

$17,697

Vietnamese

$15,655

Per Capita Income

*NHPI is abbreviated for those who identified themselves as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander

Table 1. Per Capita Income by Ethnicity in 1999 Source: U.S. Census Bureau Summary File 4, SF4-PCT 130. http://www.aamovement.net/viewpoints/ninjasdragons2.htm


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Contemporary Issues (Chan)

  • Model minority myth – critique similar to Mia Tuan’s; debate is partly over economics, partly over ideology (167-171)

  • College admissions anti-Asian bias

  • Asian American studies

  • Asian American cultural production

  • Political participation and empowerment

    • Electoral politics: HI, mainland, SCC

    • Community-based activism: redress and reparations (JACL, Nisei representatives); anti-Asian violence (American Citizens for Justice); San Francisco I-Hotel


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Historical Context of I-Hotel Struggle

1907 – rebuilt after 1906 earthquake

1920s-1930s – Manilatown spanned 10 blocks along Kearney Street from California St to Columbus Ave; off-season home to 20,000 Filipino immigrants, Filipino-owned restaurants, barbershops, pool halls

1960s – the Financial District takes over much of Manilatown; elderly Chinese and Filipino live in residential hotels for $50 per month

1979 – I-Hotel demolished; International Hotel Citizens Advisory Committee appointed by Mayor Feinstein, opposes commercial building that excludes low-income senior housing

Two blocks of Kearney dedicated to honor Filipino immigrants.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2004/07/28/BAG357U2TN1.DTL&o=2


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The site of the original hotel, at Jackson and Kearny streets, sat empty from 1979, when the hotel was razed.Chronicle file photo, 1997, by Brant Ward / h ttp://www.sfgate.com/cgibin/object/article?o=2&f=/c/a/2005/07/22/WBGOHDPSQH1.DTL&type=printable


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International Hotel Senior Housing will provide 88 studio apartments, and 16 one-bedroom apartments for a total of 104 units of quality Section 8 federally subsidized which allows occupants to pay only 1/3 of their monthly gross income. Housing developed by Chinatown Community Development Center.Courtesy of Chong Partners Architecture

1994 – The Chinatown Community Housing Corporation secures funding from the Housing and Urban Development to build and operate 105 units

1994 – The Roman Catholic Archdiocese purchases the property and sells rights to build I-Hotel to Chinatown Community Development Center (property mgmnt grp)

1995 – International Hotel Senior Housing, Inc is formed by International Hotel Citizens Advisory Committee and CCDC


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The 14-story New International Hotel Senior Residences is under construction at Kearny and Jackson streets.Chronicle photo by Kim Komenich

1960s-1970s: commercial expansion torn down more than 4,000 low-income units in favor of high-rise buildings (including the famous Transamerica Pyramid and the Bank of America's world headquarters) and parking lots; 4 out of every 5 low-cost residential hotels in the area were gone by end of the 1970s.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2004/07/28/BAG357U2TN1.DTL&o=0


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Low-income seniors will find a home at the rebuilt hotel, which also gives a nod to its Manilatown roots. Chronicle photo by Katy Raddatz

  • 2005 – Hotel completed

  • 104 studio and 1br apts for low-income seniors

  • No more than 2 ppl/unit

  • Head of hh at least 62 yrs

  • Total hh income <$45,250 for 2, $39,600 for one

  • Former residents priority

  • Lottery for others

  • 2,400 community and activity center

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?o=1&f=/c/a/2005/07/22/WBGOHDPSQH1.DTL&type=printable


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I-HOTEL RETURNS / The new International Hotel rises 15 stories on Kearny Street and includes 88 studio and 16 one-room apartments. Construction took two years.Chronicle photo by Mike Kepka / http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2005/08/27/BAGEJEDHSN20.DTL&o=1


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Cultural Resistance and Cultural Production as Community Activism

“The civil rights and ethnic studies movements of the late 1960s were training grounds for Asian American cultural workers and the development of oppositional projects. . .unified by a common goal of articulating cultural resistance.” Espiritu (98)


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Cultural Resistance and Cultural Production as Community Activism

“Given the historical distortions and misrepresentations of Asian Americans in mainstream media, most cultural projects produced by Asian American men and women perform the important tasks of correcting histories, shaping legacies, creating new cultures, constructing a politics of resistance, and opening spaces for the forcibly excluded.” Espiritu (98)


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A Theory for Community Activism

  • The ideological dimension of Asian American oppression – examples?

  • “Cultural symbols” / “controlling images” are generated by the dominant group to help justify the economic exploitation and social oppression of Asian Americans over time.

     So to fight such oppression, one must also challenge the ideological dimension (“cultural symbols” or “controlling images”)


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