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Is Boston the AA Intellectual Mecca?
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 06:10:01 PM)

he significance of the greater Boston area's AA community derives not from its position as the nation's 13th largest (250,000, accounting for 6% of the area's 4.1 million) but from its unparalleled concentration of elite academics and scholars. The gravitational pull of institutions like MIT, Harvard, Brandeis, Northeastern, Tufts and Wellesley acts more compellingly on Asians than on other segments of the American population. They account for a stunning 20% of the 250,000 students attending the area's 60 colleges and universities.
Boston Common
AA Intellectual Mecca?

     A local Asian icon is the late An Wang, a Harvard alumnus whose 1951 invention of magnetic core memory enabled the computer revolution. Wang Laboratories has now faded into a cautionary tale of the perils of arrogance and ill-conceived family succession, but downtown Boston's gleaming Wang Center for the Performing Arts remains a magnificent memorial to the possibilities of Asian academic elitism. Rival MIT has the highest concentration of Asians (30%) outside of California and Hawaii -- as well as academia's highest suicide rate (10 since 1990).
     This intellectual pressure cooker has spawned a culture of technological innovation and risktaking that has produced many of the seeds for the global tech sectors, including the vast corridor along Boston's own Route 128 comprising 5,000 tech companies employing over 200,000.
     The Boston area's love-hate relationship with Asians began in 1875 when a small number of Chinese began pitching tents on land created several decades earlier by a land fill of the old South Cove mud flats. By the turn of the century several hundred Chinese had established a budding Chinatown of over two dozen businesses. In 1902, after the Chinese Exclusion Act was extended, police and immigration agents arrested 250 Chinese for not carrying alien registration papers. Despite sporadic hostility, Boston's Chinatown received steady patronage from locals. By 1931 it had grown to nearly a hundred establishments supporting 1,200.
     Today Chinatown occupies 32 acres along Harrison Avenue between South Station and the Boston Commons. It has become one of Boston's most vibrant areas, with over 200 businesses that spill out into the theater district. Its several dozen restaurants are operated not only by Chinese from Hong Kong and Taiwan, but also Vietnamese, Coreans, Thais, Filipinos and other Asian nationalities. Thanks to social and cultural activism emanating from the local universities, Chinatown enjoys support from many energetic organizations dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for its mostly recent-immigrant residents. It has become a centerpiece of Boston's efforts at cultural preservation and urban renewal but for most of the area's AA residents, Chinatown is a hot meal and an occasional touchstone to a heritage that is invisible in their suburban neighborhoods.
     The young Asians drawn to Boston by the reputations of its elite colleges have mixed feelings about the area's post-graduation hospitality. Some suspect the area's businesses of discriminating against Asians. Others are less than comfortable with the perceived attitudes of locals. Few Asians who attend college in Boston settle there.
     Is greater Boston the Asian American intellectual mecca? Or is it just third-base for ambitious heavyhitters?

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Before you decide to move to Boston for school or for work, please keep in mind that Boston is very much an Irish town with very distinct Irish flavors. Most of the local government officials are Irish-Americans to the extend of excluding other groups althought the Mayor Menino is Italian-American. Just think of the Kennedy family. There are numerous pubs all over the city, and drinking is a popular activity during weekends. Few professors and students at MIT and Harvard are Irish since Irish as a group have low educational and income level although many administrators are Irish. Boston is definitely a Democrat city with disdain for commerce and a preference for big government and governement programs. Entrepreneurs tend to leave Boston for California to start their businesses.
Student in Boston
   Thursday, April 10, 2003 at 14:12:03 (PDT)    []
"go find a cute Bostonian WASP or Irish blondie and show her our Asian Sex Secrets."

I think I'll take your advice. Can't keep all those Asian Sex secrets to ourselves now can we? ;)
   Thursday, April 10, 2003 at 13:08:09 (PDT)    []

Then stop being such a loser and go bang some cute white broads! Jesus! This is America. People are free to date whomever they want (Never mind the reasons WHY some of them do it, though. That's for another discussion.), so you can't stop AFs from dating whiteboys. Not open-minded or courageous enough to go for white girls? Then it's your own damn fault, you have no right to bitch, then.
Get with the program, and if the Asian girls don't want you, go find a cute Bostonian WASP or Irish blondie and show her our Asian Sex Secrets. That'll increase your stock with the ladies.
   Wednesday, April 09, 2003 at 23:55:35 (PDT)    []
California Wonderful,

Actually, the median income figures for San Fransisco are actually higher than NYC/Manhattan for 2002/2003. The median housing rates are accordingly higher for SF. I was surprised too. If some people deem incomes and housing prices as the stock of regional superiority, NYC is overrated (nevermind that the thought is in itself faulty).
   Wednesday, April 09, 2003 at 23:49:25 (PDT)    []
"that's as I see it..."

LOL!!! I can relate, totally. I'm a Korean kid from L.A., who's stuck in the North East attending some boring school in a small hick-town called Ithaca. =P

I know that my school is one of the top gathering places for intellectual talent, but because we're in such a small town, there is no opputunity to see what we learn at school happen in real life? If you study Government, the closest you can get to seeing that in practice are town council meetings in a town of only 20,000 people. It's a joke. And plus, we get some of the nastiest weather on the East Coast, rivaling the winter chills of the Great Lakes states like Michigan.

I'm sure I'll end up going back to L.A. or somewhere in California if I can't find a job in NYC.

Boston or most of the North East for that matter, is good for nothing except some academic posturing and mental masturbation. Judging from the pinheads I meet every day, I'd say that the Ivy Leagues are basically the same as public schools, except that they have a fancy-ass price-tage slapped on them. It's all way too overrated as an "intellectual mecca".
   Wednesday, April 09, 2003 at 23:46:50 (PDT)    []
The culture in Boston is very conservative and parochial. With over one hundred thousand students passing through Boston every year, Bostonian have developed an attitude of expecting most non-native Bostonians not to stay for long and will act accordingly. When they meet you, they are always wondering how long you intend to stay in Boston and then decide if it is worth their time to invest in the relationship. Indeed, with such poor weather, few students stay after graduation. Landlords have little incentive to invest in renovation of houses intended for the large number of transient students on limited budget, and most houses look dilapidated. It just becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. The dominance of service industries, particularly academia led by the strongly anti-commercialization Harvard University, is also hampering the development of manufacturing industries that can bring more stable jobs and tax revenue to the Massachusetts. Unlike the more practical MIT and Stanford, Harvard places very severe restrictions on commercialization of research and technology by its researchers and professors in order to preseve its untainted high academic ideals. A state government that is dominated by Irish democratics, a traditionally economically underperforming group, also does not encourage commercial development.
Student in Boston
   Wednesday, April 09, 2003 at 23:46:20 (PDT)    []
It is almost mid-April, and we are still getting snow in Boston. The quality of life is just down right miserable here. Houses are old, and antiquated cable buses roam the streets. With weather like this, people coop up at home for most of the year. No wonder they have so much time to think and write. As one person I met who has lived in Boston for quite a few years said, there are many thinkers in Boston, but few doers. Many professors are just full of hot air and have no substance.
Student in Boston
   Monday, April 07, 2003 at 17:35:17 (PDT)    []
Not so sure Boston can be characterized as the AA intellectual Mecca - more like a large clustering of intellectual boot camps where you come to get your merit badge and then go back to live in a more comfortable area. Those of you born and raised in California or Florida and came here know what I'm talking about. Those of you who haven't lived in LA/SF/SD - try it; then you'll know. And for those wondering if you need to get the goodhouse-keeping seal of approval from the Boston area boot camps; well, it's harder to really struggle and focus when you're living the good life. But if you aren't prepared for training in Boston, think of it as running the Boston Marathon - Heart Break Hill is near the end of the race...
that's as I see it...
   Sunday, April 06, 2003 at 13:41:09 (PDT)    []
On the average day in Boston or Cambridge, I see about 5 to 10 WM/AF couples.
I think in the past year I've seen MAYBE 3 AM/WF couples.
   Wednesday, March 05, 2003 at 08:50:37 (PST)    []
Boston may be a great place to study, but it is not a good place to build a life and career.

Last year, Boston Consulting Group conducted a study, available at its homepage, on the competitiveness of Massachusetts' business environment for the biotech industry and concluded that if Massachusetts does not get its act together in the next few years, its biotech industry will go the way of its IT industry earlier: to California and elsewhere. There is no coordination between the government, academia, and industry to nurture the nascent biotech industry while states like California and North Carolina have coordinated efforts to encourage and nurture their biotech industries. Massachusetts has actually been losing biotech jobs in the last few years. The schools and the government have long held an arrogant view that the IT and biotech industries have no where else to go but Massachusetts. This obviously has been proven to be totally false with the IT industry and soon with the biotech industry. Boston Consulting Group projected that Massachusetts will need to add at least 90,000 biotech jobs in the next few years to maintain it competitveness against other clusters like San Francisco and San Diego areas. Whether or not the state can turn things around that quickly is highly questionable. Furthermore, the tax structure in Massachusetts are very unfavorbale for biotech companies to establish manufacturing facilities here, and manufacturing is where most jobs are added and most tax revenue is generated. Many firms that started in Massachusetts chose to manufacture elsewhere and may eventually move away. This arrogant attitude and lack of commercial orientation are part of the reason that the Boston and Massachusetts are still largely unindustrialized after more than 300 years in contrast to younger cities of New York and Los Angeles. The academicians in Boston area may be good at teaching but fail miserably at doing what they preach.
Student in Boston
   Monday, February 10, 2003 at 08:48:20 (PST)    []
I think APIs are often very proud of the regions they live in, because it is a major life decision in which an individual can establish his or her own identity based solely on the individual's choice. Other sources of identity, such as one's race and sex are beyond the individual's control, and there is often a great deal of pressure on other sources of identity as well, such as what line of work one enters or who is suitable for dating.

Boston is definitely my favorite city, and I think it is an ideal place for APIs to settle. As mentioned, it is well educated, and has a great deal of opportunities for professionals, especially in high tech. It is politically liberal and open minded, yet long established, preppy and historical in its tastes. It has a full four season climate. I think much has been made of a region's weather, but one must consider that much of China, Korea and Japan, where many APIs come from, is similar in weather as well.

I think the thing that appeals the most about Boston is its strong sense of common identity. Remarkably so, people here are concerned with the common good, and not leaving any person behind. They call Boston the "hub" and this sense of oneness is true in its mentality. People here love and support their city, having genuine affection for their public transportation and public programs. A Red Sox victory energizes the entire city. One thing which has always struck me was how well sprawl has been controlled here, and how instead of miles of plastic home depots and fatburgers, we have so many parks and commons here. There is a strong sense I feel here of harmony with the environment, in the place of the eroded parched earth, mudslides, water droughts and mile long fires that are often present in areas in which their cities have been less tempered by such considerations.

I think that these are values which may appeal to many APIs, and may at times mesh particularly well with certain aspects of their cultural background.
   Monday, January 20, 2003 at 14:39:55 (PST)    []
After attending university in the Boston area for a while, I notice few students from the local universities choose to settle here. I would not consider staying here just for the cold weather. The area is also very old, and even some of the good towns are in bad conditions. Many buildings are in dire need of renovation, and totally outdated public cabled buses roam the streets around Boston. Despite all the leading thinkers in the local univeristies, the general culture is conservative and risk-averse. This is why so many graduates from Boston's finest institutions chose to go to the San Francico Bay Area and started the high-tech boom there, rather than at Boston. For an area with so many good schools, there are few impressive companies here. A lot of the residents are highly educated with many degrees but are too academic and not very practical. They rather talk and debate than roll up their sleeves and do real constructive work. Many young graduates choose to start their careers in New York, New Jersy, or California, where there are more professional opportunities.
Student in Boston
   Tuesday, January 14, 2003 at 08:58:10 (PST)    []
For all those who bad mouthed California,

I don't think California is really that bad. LA especially is very Asian friendly, I have lived in a suburb of LA for almost 20 years now, and barely encountered the tiniest bit of the so called anti-Asian. My previous two bosses were from the mid west and east coast, they said they never had any experience working with Asians before. But yet they hired me, and they hired even more Asian for their companies. I see this as a progress toward improvement of the cultural diversity in this country. It's a small step compared to what we all expect to happen but it's gradually happening.

California, I believe is one of the very few states that encourages all businesses and schools to appreciate cultural diversity. They even have what they call mandatory ethnic studies in schools and universities, like all UCs (university of california that is).

All the caucasian people that I know admit that they learned alot when they come to California. A couple of them are actually taking Asian studies at the university. I don't know why ...

So now those of you who bad-mouthed California, you should actually be thanking this wonderful state for the majority of the progress of cultural diversity in this country. California is the best state in the nation, in my opinion. I lived in the east coast for several years, it was not the same as here. Boston is actually better than New York City which I think is just too overpopulated and anti Asian, in my opinion. I felt more accepted here in California. One more thing, if California is really that third class, well how come the housing market here is the most expensive in the nation (except New York/Manhattan). That proves that people love California and they keep coming.

That's my two cents.
California Wonderful
   Wednesday, January 08, 2003 at 11:01:56 (PST)    []
Boston and the New England are different from the rest of the country. Generally well educated population unlike the rest of the country.
Hoosier trasplant
   Thursday, January 02, 2003 at 11:28:57 (PST)    []
Indian in Indiana,

Hoosiers are fat, uneducated, poor, and ignorant because they are lazy and unmotivated. They are not willing to do things to change their lives and conditions. Instead, they blame everyone else and the environment for their own failures. It has much less to do with the diet, location, or system. After all, people make things happen.
   Wednesday, January 01, 2003 at 02:07:17 (PST)    []
Asian in Denver:

I did some survey work for the University during the past year. 60% of Lonetree and Parker come out of Texas and California. The ones from CA were mostly running away from Asians...from the Bay Area. Many complained that the Asian food smells of some form of curry, the place was looking too "foreign" and that it did not look like "California" anymore. I found the same attitude in Littleton, CO..Chatfield, Columbine, etc, but with a slight twist. The white teenage girls talked about "their boys" being attracted to Asian girls back in CA, and the fact that the Asians, particularly Asian and Asian American women knocking every other women out in much so, it was impossible to get into the E schools in CA. Little wonder then, that the most anti-Asian congressman Tom Tancredo represents them. He has frequently implied that Asians are not really Americans. Also, the most anti-Asian Immigrant advocate who bankrolls Tancredo lives in Evergreen. She got away from OC...too many Asians there.

I bet anything, that neither Boston nor Indiana can beat this kind of anti-Asian racism!
Asian in Boulder
   Tuesday, December 31, 2002 at 09:16:47 (PST)    []

[Let's get back to discussing Boston, not racism in other cities. --Ed]