Chinatown Arena

This month, the St. Peter’s Social Justice Discernment Group has chosen to address the specific issue of the Chinatown arena within the larger context of the chronic struggle of our marginalized communities, often communities of color, to maintain their integrity and stability in the face of development. The articles and videos included here present an encompassing historical perspective on the 170-year history of racism, segregation, and displacement of the AAPI population in the United States. They highlight the fact that these now “essential enclaves” were originally necessitated by anti-Asian racism and laws, relegating the immigrants to the least desirable fringes of the city. In today’s world of greatly increasing anti-AAPI hate crimes, such places as Chinatown even more importantly provide a place of belonging, safety and protection as well as a cultural community.

These articles compare the history and fate of the Chinatowns in other cities, unfortunately destroyed in the interest of development and gentrification, a process that may be embarked upon in good faith but invariably fails to serve the existing community, often displacing it.

An interview with John Chin, the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, and Domenic Vitiello, Associate Professor of City Planning and Urban Studies at UPenn, from 2013 provides background for our present situation. In his interview of 3/23, Casey Butcher, POWER Interfaith, clearly outlines the impact of the proposed arena.

Chinatown references: