As your Chicago South Side Resource, I am learning more about Chicago. I am more observant than most when I visit different neighborhoods. It could be because I’m a journalist or it could be because I am uberly nosy. Either way, I have checked out some things in Chinatown that are pretty admirable that, if applied by Black people, could make their economic conditions just a little better. Following are three lessons the Black community can learn from Chinatown.
1. Everyone is welcome to visit, but they are not welcomed to stay
I’ve shopped, eaten and participated in different festivities in Chinatown, and I have seen very few people of Asian descent that live or work there. Remember, this is my observation only. It is a tight knit community. And, to be sure that only a few outsiders can come in, mostly everything is in their language with a few select words translated to English.
Lesson: Stop letting everyone into your community. Yeah, I know that things are much deeper than this, and race, class and politics have a lot to do with much of it. Just know that other people cannot take over if they cannot get in.
2. Chinese money stays in the Chinese community
From my observations, everything Chinese people need is in their neighborhood. As I stated earlier, I have seen mostly people who look like them working in their stores. They probably don’t have to leave the community unless they just want to. And, I have to wonder, how many times does the dollar circulate in their community before it leaves the community? Here’s a random, yet relevant thought: Have you ever seen any Asian people in businesses in the Black community if they were not the owners?
Lesson: Spend your money with Black-owned businesses and employ other Black people. I know this is easier said than done on so many levels; but if you can find good, reliable help, hire it.
3. They control their own media
I personally have never seen or heard of any new stories about Chinatown on any local stations in Chicago and I refuse to pay for cable. I have two thoughts on why this is so. First, this could be because they do not report their “dirty laundry” to large mainstream media sources. Or, they empower their media sources to tell their stories their way. Either way, what happens in Chinatown stays in Chinatown.
Lesson: Create and control your own media. Tell your story with accuracy and honesty to counter mainstream media images and stories. Free social media tools are available or report your stories to bloggers, social media gurus and other online community influencers who care about your community. Ideally, the people telling your stories will live in the communities in which they are reporting.
The lessons listed about are just a few things I’ve seen as an outsider looking in. And from what I can tell, the Black community would fare much better economically if they practiced the above three lessons from Chinatown.
Images: chicagochinatown, brotherpeacemaker