Displaced By Your Own: How Working-Class East Asians Perceive the Role of Co-Ethnics in the Gentrification of Flushing, Queens, Angelica Qin UG '23 (3949038)
Once bustling ethnic enclaves, many Chinatowns in the United States have now begun to undergo a rapid process of gentrification. Much of the academic and popular discourse surrounding this topic assumes that this gentrification is perpetuated by white actors. However, as the racial group with the highest intraracial income gap in the United States, Asians may be uniquely disposed to intragroup gentrification. Furthermore, although little empirical evidence yet exists, media interviews suggest that residents of the Chinatown in Flushing, Queens perceive other Asians to be their primary gentrifiers. Through interviews with 10 working-class Asian community members in Flushing, I find that according to participants’ perceptions, East Asians contribute to gentrification in Flushing in three major ways: (1) the rise of luxury developments funded by East Asian developers and populated with new, wealthy East Asian residents, (2) the manipulative profitmaking tactics of Asian landlords, politicians, and management companies such as targeted renovations, police intimidation, and “warehousing,” and (3) the increase of “trendy” Asian businesses. These changes are somewhat welcome to some residents, but they may also lead to displacement, price increases, and intraracial/intra-community disunity. The findings from this study contribute valuable insights to the understanding of the relationship between race and gentrification, as well as to the understanding of the processes that enable the gentrification of Flushing and American Chinatowns at large.