Blog Post#3: What Matters


I will not be surprised if you tell me you have a friend whose family is originally from China. His or her family live and work in Flushing, or any other Chinatowns in a working-class life and have a poor English skill. Language and working opportunities are the main things that barrier the Chinese American from the mainstream society in the U.S.A. As Valerie Kuletz concluded in the “Nuclear Wasteland”, “Effort to individualize the nuclear problem effectively mask the real social nature of nuclearism and constitute a mechanism of exclusion on a mass scale”. (87). “Pressure to “individualize” the problem is great”. (87) As most of the doctors blame the sickness of people to their terrible lifestyle instead of the nuclear waste problem, most of people blame the working-class and poor life of Chinese immigrants for their individual problems for lack of motivation to learn English and fight for the opportunities instead of the overall environment they live in . After interviewing with people who work in Flushing, I found that Flushing, Queens actually provide a space for those immigrants to have a better and convenient life  in the U.S. However, the existing multiculturalism in Flushing simultaneously hinder them to truly integrate into the society.

Flushing is a safe heaven for Chinese American to breathe and embrace all the affects automatically that has no difference to in their hometown in China. As Brain Massumi concluded in The Autonomy of Affect, affects are something that operate unconsciously but filled with motion, vibratory motion and resonance.(26) The affect of Flushing moves back and forth between those Chinese American and the whole environment significantly and intangibly. Chinese American’s presence change the Flushing area in New York to a chinatown filled with Chinese characters and Chinese languages. At the same time, this safe heaven district makes those immigrants have no huge motivations to break out their Chinese circle and find jobs outside this comfy zone as they can live well without learning English or earning a lot of money. In Flushing, foods and service are cheap comparing to the price in most of the places in New York and people use Chinese as its main language. It provides a convenient but working-class life style that Chinese immigrants can settle down easily WITHOUT really integrate into the American society. They can live well in Flushing, but may Not in the rest of New York, or in the rest of the United States.

The multiculturalism for those Chinese Immigrants have further social implication for the American society. As Teresa Brenna concluded in The Transmission of Affect, we are affected by others’ actions and emotions easily and there is no distinction of individual and environment. The lives and emotions of Chinese American are not just pertained to only themselves, but also affect the lives of ours and the environment of New York as a whole. Instead of cultural integration, multiculturalism celebrate the difference in cultures and their own cultural value and laws. The maintenance of distinct Asian culture in Flushing within the New York city actually create problems to the existing laws and values of the country, as well as the single national identity and language in America. A large number of the stores and restaurants only take cash but not credit card in order to avoid tax. A lot of people worked in Flushing do not have a legal working registration. Most of the Chinese immigrants I interviewed in Flushing, especially those immigrants who had come to New York for more than 20 years, still considered themselves Chinese, instead of Chinese American.

Multiculturalism matters as it potentially hindered social integration, undermined national unity, slowed down cultural assimilation. It wears down the motivation for immigrants to learn and integrate into the mainstream society. It makes difficulties in making a complete legislation system that is fair to everyone in the country. It also leads to further fragmentation of society into different ethnic groups with different values and minds that are hard to be regulated by U.S government. 

Works Cited

Kuletz, Valerie. The Tainted Desert: Environmental Ruin in the American West. New York: Routledge, 1998.

Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Parables for the Virtual (2002): 23-45.

Brennan, Teresa. The Transmission of Affect. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2004.

~ by kaiqicai on March 27, 2017.

One Response to “Blog Post#3: What Matters”

  1. I really loved how you immediately made post personal with making the reader imagine someone who is of Chinese descent living in Flushing or any other chinatowns. I also love how you focus on multiculturalism and how that is combatting the assimilation that would usually happen in this situation. Then you also focus on the negative on that and how many Chinese Americans have a harder time integrating since they dont have to in their safe haven. Overall this post really made me care about this social issue and made me want to learn more and embrace

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