Asian Air 


Is Boston the AA Intellectual Mecca?
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 06:09:57 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?

This interactive article is closed to new input.
Discussions posted during the past year remain available for browsing.

Asian American Videos

Films & Movies Channel

Humor Channel

Identity Channel

Vocals & Music Channel

Makeup & Hair Channel

Intercultural Channel


© 1996-2013 Asian Media Group Inc
No part of the contents of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission.


[This page is closed to new input. --Ed.]
I forgot to include that NJ, VA, and FL are probably more Asian populated that Boston too. The FL Asians don't seem to have a very large community though; NJ has a very 'eh' one in proportion to the population.
Nguyen    Thursday, December 19, 2002 at 14:08:15 (PST)    []
I've lived in Massachusetts all my life; 20 minutes from Boston at most. Boston, a racist city? I think not. The New England area, especially Massachusetts, is known for its liberal views. Asians, who argue that Boston is a city filled with racists, better open their minds; they're just angry at everything and take the slightest thing to be a racist act. True though, Boston is not the most diverse city in America like Houston or San Francisco. However, it is accepting in its ways, and there is certainly not a lack. The area is rich with people from around the world, and there is not a huge conflict between the minorities, as in other racially diverse cities; there is a certain peace and tolerance that hangs over the cities, and conflicts rarely get out of hand.

Toronto is not racially diverse, for those who forget that Hispanics and Blacks are minorities too. That city is mainly White and Asian. Many Asians tend to think racially diverse means more Asians than the norm.

Chinatown is a tiny place, but the food is great; The shopping is very 'blah', but the quality of the food is certainly not lacking and can compete with other Chinatowns easily. Speaking of small, Boston's Chinatown sure beats Philadelphia's. Besides that, Chinatown is a hotspot for people of all backgrounds; check it out during the afternoon hours.

Some of the stereotypes for Asians are, in fact, true. The designer clothing? The cell phones? Nerds that do nothing but study? Sorry to break the news to everyone, but check out an Asian Pride website sometimes; those very stereotypes are mentioned as well. The young AA society take pride in these stereotypes, in a sense. Ask any Asian girl or guy from the city (including myself), what brands of clothing would they like; most would answer Bebe, Nautica, Gap, Banana Republic, J.Crew, DKNY, D&G, etc...

As for a low Asian population... I think the only areas that really beat Massachusetts are CA, TX, HI, NY, and IL. For such a small state, that's a decent Asian population.

Check your facts before making a statement.
Nguyen    Thursday, December 19, 2002 at 14:02:42 (PST)    []
I agree with cat's comments on Boston and the Midwest.

I lived in Indiana for a few years. It has to be one of the most racist states in this country. It is also the former home to the Ku Klux Klan headquarters and the current home to many racist and militia groups. A large portion of the population is uneducated, poor, and embarassingly ignorant. Many Hoosiers, as Indiana residents call themselves, have never traveled outside of Indiana and yet think they know more than anyone else. There is a "brain drain" of college graduates from Indiana as young people seek better lives and opportunities elsewhere. Several local institutions such as Eli Lilly and Indiana University have been known for blatant racist acts and policies for decades. In the early 1990, Eli Lilly was threatened to be shut down by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after repeatedly failing the EEOC audit. Only a few years ago, a Korea student at Indiana University was shot to death by a white supremacist while walking to church with his friends. Many of the locally trained professional such as physicians and lawyers are grossly incompetent and dishonest, exacerbated by the facts that their clients are incapable of judjing the quality of service they are paying for. My recommendation is to stay as away from Indiana as you possibly can. Absolutely do not go to school, take jobs, or buy service from there.
   Tuesday, December 03, 2002 at 14:59:24 (PST)    []
Do you know what people from Boston think of AA's?

They think that they're either 1) snobs because they always wear designer clothing and walk around on their cell phones, or 2) nerds because they're so concerned with studying that they've lost all ability to socialize in a normal setting.

Unfortunately that's the harsh sterotype. Boston is an old city that's set in it's ways. When SF and Seattle were still pioneer towns, Boston was already a hundred-year-old port city.

No one goes to Chinatown because for years it was the home of the red light district. The only other AA's the locals see are the university students and tourists.

But to answer the question, Is Boston the AA Intellectual Mecca? Sure, to study science and technology. For the arts I would think the Mecca would be San Fran.
As for racism in New England...I get more cold stares when I'm in Wisconsin or Minnesota than I have ever gotten in any Irish bar in Southie. The midwest scares me...
   Tuesday, December 03, 2002 at 11:54:30 (PST)    []
Shopping strip centers and hot weather are germaine throughout the Sunbelt, not just in Houston.

San Diego's mess of strip centers makes Houston's look upscale by comparison!

Been to Los Angeles during Labor Day? It was just as hot as Dallas during a trip to Universal Studios. And considering increasing global least Texas is air conditioned.

There is more to Houston than "shopping centers." Clear Lake and The Woodlands are just two examples of Houston's regional beauty. If SoCal has the mountains, Pacific and the desert.......Houston's got the forests, the Gulf Coast and the prairies.

Houston weather is actually quite mild to very pleasant most of the time from October to about late April.....sure beats shoveling snow up in New England in January. (Like it doesn't get humid up there either during the summer.)
I'll also take a Houston summer or rainfall to a California Big One that's expected (I hope to leave Cali soon).

While I share miss ladies' disgust with some Texas shame like the death penalty...........she has not been through Texas like I have, not enough to see the lively cities and much friendlier people!

I never said Houston was "heaven on earth".........but it sure BEATS THE HELL OUT OF NEW ENGLAND when it comes to multicultural diversity and tolerance.

Nah. I'll take the beautiful greenery and shopping center of H-town for myself.

As someone who's been from Manila to London, San Francisco to Toronto.......I can safely say Houston is one beautiful place with beautiful diversity.
   Sunday, November 03, 2002 at 00:21:23 (PST)    []
Boston is a black and white city.
People who were born in Boston have two opinion about the city
people love it or hate it. Boston isn't an in between city. It's a really cut and dried city. Boston reminds me Seoul in many ways. the weather and people are the same. Hot and cold. It's a great education town and it's a great place to meet girls. For all social folks Boston is best place to meet International students.

by BostonSeoul
massachusetts    Tuesday, October 22, 2002 at 07:21:16 (PDT)    []
"The Blacks and the Vietnamese poeple love that place because it is hot, humid and suffocating just like living in the jungle."

wtf does that mean? i hope you are taking on a false-i-am-a-crazy-white-boy personality and saying this in total sarcasm.

btw, Boston has a large viet and black population too considering, and you should check yourself before saying something that could be misconstrued as racist and ignorant.

Boston sucks too don't kid yourself.
miss. L
   Thursday, October 03, 2002 at 07:47:58 (PDT)    []
Oh God!

Yeah Houston, Texas is heaven on earth...It has beautiful vistas of shopping malls and friendly rednecks and blacks. The best of all are all the little Saigons popping up all over place where they treat you like sh@t and act as if they know it all. The Blacks and the Vietnamese poeple love that place because it is hot, humid and suffocating just like living in the jungle.

The inhabitants who live there are the most closed minded egotistical people on earth. Texas is better We have the biggest the baddest the best anything but to say anything negative for that oil slick you call a city.

Please visit that city and then let the so-called worldman what you think of his wonderful city and just be glad he is there and not in your city!
Boston doesn't suck
   Tuesday, October 01, 2002 at 19:46:49 (PDT)    []
wow worldyman i'm ig'nant

i had NO idea that Houston TX was so diverse! THANK YOU for opening my eyes! I talk smack about American Cities all the time. Don't mind me. There is however no way I would ever live in Texas.

Texas has the death penalty. Enough Minorities on Death row without fair trials. Enough Sherriffs and enough small towns. Enough George Bushes. Maybe it's my whole Northern mentality, but Texas seems kind of backwards to me. Sorry! Don't mean to diss on your state, but hopefully you understand.

P.S. I do not love New England. You can talk all the smak you want about it, i will probalby agree! I am not from here and I am leaving.

I am glad you like Houston.
miss L
   Tuesday, October 01, 2002 at 14:11:15 (PDT)    []
To miss lady,

Her quote: "in a scale of relativity, Boston doesn't suck that bad racially compared to something like Ohio or Texas i'm sure."

Texas is actually a rich multicultural and multiethnic place.......compared to New England.

Boston does not compare to Houston. For example, Boston does not have a Little Korea, three Little Saigons, two Chinatowns, a mixed Little Manila-Little Pakistan-Little Nigeria (these three commercial zones are the same, if you know what I mean), a Little India, and to boot, there is even a huge mixed Asian shopping district in the NW suburbs of Houston. And where is Boston's plethora of Latino shopping zones? And why do blacks hate Boston but love Houston, "relatively?"

I can't really see why ignorance thinks Texas is only rednecks.
   Sunday, September 29, 2002 at 02:36:31 (PDT)    []
B-town Kim,

In a way, you may be right. Boston isn't all THAT bad. but there is nothing special about it. there is a definite shortage of diversity. I have family here and there is an Asian community, however, compared to other east coast cities (or west) it is pretty white-bread. I'm not sure about what you mean by "Asians causing the trouble"...

On a scale of relativity, Boston doesn't suck that bad racially compared to something like Ohio or Texas i'm sure. But I'm used to being where every second person is a minority, and in Boston, it isn't so. New York, Montreal, Philly, Toronto, those cities seem more ethnically mixed than Boston by far.

When people give the silent stares, that isn't any better than outright name calling. What are Asians doing in an Irish pub anyway?? :) I have been to a couple places just trying to have a beer and listen to some good music, but i just don't feel it here. there is no reason to even try anymore.

The Boston Chinatown is pretty small yes. It is separated from the rest of the city. I know a guy from my old job who has lived here all his 22 years, and never cut through Chinatown EVER. Not even for a short cut. In Boston it doesn't seem like diversity is a important issue.
miss lady
   Monday, September 23, 2002 at 13:54:57 (PDT)    []