Asian Air 


Is Boston the AA Intellectual Mecca?

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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(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 06:09:57 PM)

To Everyone
Cmon Boston Isnt that bad. Yea its got its s***holes and places where asians dont seem to be welcome but in reality its not as bad as it would be in other places. As far as asians being found in the upper echelons of the corporate ladder it is very sad. Bostons an ok city. It is however as many of you not perfect and is far from it. But from my own personal experience from living in Boston it was usually the asians that caused the trouble, most of the time. As for the fact that many students of asian heritage study here it seems that you find asians mostly in places for asians. I once went into a bar with some friends and though we did get some looks from the customers nothing was said or done to us. In all Bostons an ok place to be.
Beantown Kim
   Wednesday, September 18, 2002 at 02:03:10 (PDT)    []
To Ex Proper Bostonian,
I'm sorry to hear about what happened to you. Nobody should get a beating for any reason. I apologize for my last comment on my last post. But my question to you is, was every incident racially motivated?
My point is that you assumed I was naive about racism and thought Boston was the Asian paradise. It is far from it.
It may or may not surpise you, but there is racial tension in CA as well. I had my ass handed to me by a group of Mexicans when I was in Oakland minding my own business. Was it racially motivated? I don't know. Just because there are more Asians in the area does not always make it an Asian paradise. You still get looks from whites, especially in the CA suburbs. They think you're second rate. Also I remember a school shooting incident where a guy killed a few asian school children.
My experience in Boston was different from yours. I actually felt safe in the area (I probably didn't notice the gangs in the area). I actually enjoy winters here, probably because I hadn't seen snow before moving here. A lot of rich history here that locals take for granted.
As for the people, I feel that they are like people from the rest of the country. Some may be racist, blatantly racist (I remember one guy who told me he hates Portugese people, probably hates asians as well, didn't have the balls to tell me in front of my face). But I also met people who are real cool as well. One of my best friend is Irish American from Maine.
As for Austin, the area has fewer Asians in it, and I could cut the racial tension with a knife. I went to a bar with my cousin in a redneck town one night. The whole bar grew silent as we walked in. We quickly walked out. We still had to watch our backs driving out. I don't think I could live like that. Peace.
Asian New Englander
   Friday, August 16, 2002 at 00:06:44 (PDT)
TO Asian New Englander,

You don't understand. I prefer places where I don't constantly have to watch my back (and front) so I think I'll turn down the Austin, TX invitation.
Now then about ass whoopins. I've got a couple of facial scars, a broken toe which healed crookedly, and thankfully no more dizzy spells from a near concussion from a good ass whoopin. What is your rebuttal to that? Oh and btw each of those items I mentioned are all from separate whoopins or altercations.
   Thursday, August 15, 2002 at 08:53:35 (PDT)
To (ex)Proper Asian Bostonian,
You are such a dope. So you think I don't know racism eh? Living in Cali, I recieved racist threats and I've gotten into fights with whites, blacks, and hispanics for calling me chink. I've seen and known people who got their asses stabbed for stupid s*** such as what jackets they wear. You see, gangs make you numb to the violence around you.
I'm not saying Boston is the perfect place to live. It's just as racist towards Asians as a lot of places in the country. But it sure beats the hell out of Austin TX (I know, I've spent a few summers there). Boston is great compared to the South. There are places down in Texas where whites make a "real" point that you aren't welcome. So why don't you go down there? That'll teach you what a real asswhoopin's about...
Asian New Englander
   Wednesday, August 14, 2002 at 00:24:15 (PDT)

Sorry but Boston's Chinatown is horribly dirty, stinks in summertime from the trash on the streets, and is very dangerous at night as it's filled with hookers and drug dealers. I know because I've lived in Boston for many years. Yes it is being taken over by the Ritz Carlton and luxury condos, but that's what makes money, and at least they make the area look nicer.
   Tuesday, August 13, 2002 at 06:39:06 (PDT)
to Asian New Englander,

perhaps living in San Fran all those years has clouded your perception of good ole fashion racism and prejudice. It's different where you came from and where you are in Boston, please trust me in this regard. What really clears the sinuses is a nice ass whoopin or two, Boston redneck style. One of those will fix you right up just so we understand each other.
   Saturday, August 10, 2002 at 08:33:53 (PDT)
I have been living in Allston/Brighton just outside of Boston for 5 years now. There is a rich history of Asian Americans in the Metro Area that many do not focus on because it is overshadowed by the AA Elitist and Intellectual Mecca . Sure there are many Asians in the Nations top ranking schools but lets take a look at the neighboring schools that are not ivy league but sure accommodate huge populations of Asian Americans. The UMass schools undeniably have many AA's so lets not discount these institutions - this is where you find the so called large populations of AAs.
Of all the Metropolitan cities that I have visited and as a resident I would say that Boston is the least friendly and inclusive towards AA's and not to mention racist.
No one seems to want to recognize that Massachusetts is the home to the 3rd largest community in the nation of South East Asians from Cambodia - in Revere, or 7th largest South Asian community in Waltham and surrounding towns.
The 32 acres that is occupied by Chinatown residents and others is slowly decreasing as the land is becoming a big commodity for the contstruction of the new Ritz Carleton, Loew's Theatre ($10/ticket) and luxury condos. Chinatown is shrinking in size as we speak. Half of the area now is owned by Tuft's Dentist School or other hospitals. It is an area that, like the urban hoods (Roxbury, JP, and all of the Orange line) are disregarded and neglected.
Stop the B.S about social and cultural organizations who are fighting for the survival of Chinatown because the inevitable is happening and Chinatown is losing the battle and their neighborhood.
Lets also consider that I am sure more than half of the Asian American students here are not native New Englanders let alone Bostonians. I hear of more westcoasters and tri-staters spending their 4 yrs here. Boston is definately not one of the most cultural relitivistic cities for AAs but in my 5 years has made some improvements.
Bostonpinay    Monday, August 05, 2002 at 12:46:56 (PDT)