Page 7 of 8


he restaurant business has largely driven the growth of the Asian population in Miami, a tourism boomtown. When hundreds of Chinese from Hong Kong and Taiwan began relocating to Miami in the late 1980s, many invested in Chinese restaurants, believing the city's healthy tourist and retirement economy would generate a free-spending lifestyle. To upstage competitors, many hired well-known chefs and managers from New York's Chinatown. Problem was, says Karl Ching, owner of the Florida Chinese News, an 8,000-circulation Chinese-language weekly, the managers would soon leave to open their own competing restaurants.
"This might upset a man who has been shopping there for a million years and now can't find a barber who speaks English."
     "Now most of the owners of the big Chinese restaurants are from New York," Ching says, "and they bring their family, relatives, friends and colleagues." These relocated New Yorkers now comprise at least a quarter of Miami's Asian community.
     Miami has also seen a large influx of mainland Chinese migrating from South America, where they found success in the import/export business. Well-off and financially savvy, these former mainlanders will visit Miami under a business pretext, then dissolve with their families into the city's Chinese community, later operating businesses from behind a facade of falsified documents. Naturally, they aren't counted by the census.


nti-Asian sentiment was subtle before Asians established their very visible presence in the South. The Asian migration boom has brought the racism to the surface.
     "It depends a lot on what part of town you're in," says one Atlanta Chinese American. "If you're downtown, in the African American section, you have to be careful. If you're in a corporation, it's more subtle."
     It's also common to hear Asians in the South refer to the "redneck element," Whites with an outdated, provincial perspective on their new neighbors. When the Dekalb Chamber of Commerce held a community meeting to announce plans for the International Village, the rednecks came out in force. They denounced the development as favoring "newcomers" over "old timers." Even Doraville's white mayor decried the International Village as an erosion of the old timers' lifestyle.
     Such complaints typically follow changes in neighborhood demographics, and Asian American leaders expect them. "For those provincially minded folk, it's difficult because it disrupts their established patterns of life," says Houston Chinese American business owner Joe. "Maybe their local shopping mall has been bought by some Hong Kong tycoon, and soon all its shopkeepers are Asians who don't speak much English. This might upset a man who has been shopping there for a million years and now can't find a barber who speaks English."

     Eventually, neighborhoods cope with demographic change, but the South's Asians have found that challenges to political power can trigger fierce slugfests. Traditionally, the South's Black community constituted the largest and strongest ethnic group. With the rise of the Asian and Hispanic populations, however, Blacks are watching their power decline. "There is a siege mentality in the African American community about what this portends for their established power base in the city government," says Joe. Page 8

| Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |


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