Over the last few weeks, I’ve gotten comments and questions about being the only student not of Chinese descent in the program. While learning about the technicalities of urban planning has been interesting, one of the most important things that I’ve learned in these last few weeks is that the challenges Chinatown faces are quite similar to the challenges facing that other minority communities, particularly African American neighborhoods.
The histories of the Chinese and Black communities are quite different. However, low-income Chinese and Black communities in the Bay Area face many of the same struggles. Just like many predominantly African-American neighborhoods, Chinatown faces a growing threat of gentrification. Rising prices in San Francisco are affecting minority communities across the board, and minority-owned businesses face increasing rents and changing consumer bases. Solving these issues on a large, impactful scale means that minority communities need to work together. That starts with understanding the issues that other communities of color are facing. So, even though I’ll probably get more comments about being the only non-Chinese student in the program, I know it’s important to understand the challenges of other communities in order to advocate for social and economic justice for everyone.