Open City: Blogging Urban Change
What of the less harried in the Year of the Rabbit? (Guest post by Ed Lin)
By Jerome Chou


Open City welcomes Ed Lin (author of Waylaid, This Is a Bust, and Snakes Can’t Run), who wrote the following guest post:

some people grab the spotlight

Whenever you see coverage about the Lunar New Year parade, there are prime examples of bad dancing, noisemakers (used to be firecrackers before it was determined that they were unsafe for the people who invented them) and tons of floats from various good and evil institutions of Chinese diasporic life.

Surely the parade has evolved for the better in recent years. Organizers invited LGBTQ groups — Asian and not — to join in the festivities. Also, the route is lined with supporters waving flags of the United States and the People’s Republic — a coup for supporters of China who have been kept under the political thumb of fading organ Consolidated Chinese Benevolent Association.

Yes, the new year of the rabbit holds much to celebrate and in the time of festivities it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the humanity of it all. But what of the alienated, the unrecognized and the lonely? Yes, there is a place for them even here. Why, as I marched with OCA, formerly Organization of Chinese Americans, high above the crowds of candy-grubbing kids and adults, I saw elderly Chinese looking down from the cluttered windows of their tiny rooms, some of them eating out of a bowl with little relish. There are no visitors for them, no phone calls, no cards and no one to give red envelopes to.

...while others can only watch

Once upon a time most residents of Chinatown were single-man family units. Banned from naturalized citizenship and from bringing women over to marry, there was little they could do but send money to their extended family overseas and save enough for the CCBA to ship their body back to China when they died.

Now the few sojourners left here wonder what happened to the Chinatown they knew.
The one with the parades that brandished the Nationalist KMT flag along with banners that encouraged “patriots” to continue fighting the Communists on the mainland.

The Chinatown in which the CCBA kept McCarthyism alive through the 1990s.

The Chinatown before the hipster bars opened.

What did they think as they looked over the Commies, the queers and the hapas walking in the parade? Their faces betrayed nothing. In all likelihood, they were only waiting for the crowd to dissipate before teetering down the stairs to go park it in a coffee shop with a paper.

- Ed Lin

Read more from Ed Lin at his blog.

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About Open City
Open City: Blogging Urban Change is an interdisciplinary neighborhood blog and community project coordinated by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Five commissioned writers, called Organizing Fellows, are working with community organizations and neighborhood folks in Manhattan’s Chinatown/Lower East Side (LES), Flushing, Queens, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn to collect oral histories and interviews, offer commentary about gentrification, neighborhood change, and produce new creative work around these themes. Read more.
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Featured Profile
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities was formed in 1986 (formerly known as the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence) as a response to an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes both in New York City and around the country (which included violence by police officers against Asians).
They have two offices – one in Manhattan’s Chinatown (which houses the Chinatown Tenants Union, and the new Asian Youth in Action organizing project) and the Youth Leadership Project office in the Bronx – and have members from all over the city. Over the years, CAAAV’s main campaigns have focused on community-based organizing work rooted in Asian immigrant and refugee communities. Although their advocacy and organizing work is focused mainly in Manhattan’s Chinatown and the northwest Bronx, CAAAV’s work also touches upon larger issues (such as affordable housing, war, and immigration) shaping communities all over the world: “Our work is primarily centered around issues facing New Yorkers, but always with a global analysis.”
CAAAV’s mission is to organize and build the power of working-class Asian immigrants, refugees, and youth to change concrete conditions and participate in a broader social justice movement. In the past, CAAAV’s work included organizing South Asian taxi drivers, Korean women workers, and Filipina domestic workers. Several of these organizing projects have gone on to become their own organizations, such as the New York Taxi Workers Alliance and Domestic Workers United. CAAAV’s current work focus on three different program areas: Read more.

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Community Announcements
Manhattan CB3 Land Use, Zoning, Public & Private Housing Committee
Monday, May 2 at 6:30 pm -- Rutgers Community Center, Gymnasium - 200 Madison Street (btwn Rutgers & Pike Sts)

Brooklyn CB7, Land Use/Landmarks Committee Regular meeting
Continued discussion on potential 8th Avenue rezoning

Manhattan CB3 Economic Development Committee Tuesday, May 3 at 6:30pm -- Community Board 3 Office - 59 East 4th Street (btwn 2nd Ave & Bowery)

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