Articulation of Audio: The New and Old Jackson Heights

Before revising my audio, I thought to myself, how can I take the listener on a journey through Jackson Heights? How can they gain exposure to the bustling culture of Jackson Heights, the people that have been living and continue to there, as well as the precarity they are now facing due to the commercialization of their culture?

I attempted to do that through my audio revision by starting off with the sounds of Jackson Heights. I wanted the listener to hear Jackson Heights in action and realize that Jackson Heights was not a carefully crafted “cultural melting pot” made to be advertised in a “Best Ethnic Food in New York” column, but rather, is what it is as a result of the immigrants who have worked hard to build themselves a community they can rely on for support. I’ve included voices of immigrants speaking their own language while enjoying some leisure time with their friends and family at Diversity Plaza. I’ve also included voices of people running into one another and greeting each other while walking the streets of Jackson Heights and grabbing some of their ethnic food. This intro was meant to sound fast paced, overwhelming with the amount of languages, as well as casual due to the tone of the conversations and laughter. The train conductor at the end announcing “This is Jackson Heights” was meant to signal the listener on the location of the ecology that they are listening to.

I wanted to start off my audio with the narration of two Asian Americans — two South Asians and one East Asian — that have grown up as second generation immigrants in Jackson Heights. These three individuals have all grown up in the neighborhood and have left for college. In this audio, they reflect on all the changes they keep every time they come back home. I purposely transition one interviewee’s statement that his “mom can’t enjoy Starbucks” with another South Asian who reflects on the reason why her mom and dad immigrated to Jackson Heights in the first place (hint: it wasn’t for Starbucks).

I contrasted these narration with narrations from new non-immigrant residents. When they reflect on why they moved to Jackson Heights or why Jackson Heights appeals to them, it’s very different from the second generation immigrants’ narrations.

Throughout the audio, I purposely echo certain parts in order to serve as a metaphor for anything that would be advertised by the media about the neighborhood. The loudness of these echoes capture the listeners attention, similar to how the “diversity” of Jackson Heights and “new luxury buildings with pools” and “cute houses” may capture the attention of an outsider who is unfamiliar with the support system that this neighborhood provides the immigrant population of Jackson Heights. Thus, although this audio reflects on the threats that this community faces, the most audible aspect is the commercialized parts of Jackson Heights.

I followed up the narrations from new residents with an interviewee’s clarification on how these new people appreciating the culture is and moving in is great, but has caused power players to neglect the immigrants that made the neighborhood what it is now. I’ve concluded the audio with the two male second generation immigrants joking around about the gentrification occurring (” yo get a pink almond milk latte I put you on”) and casually mentioning #SaveTheHeights. This was to represent immigrant residents are aware of the precarity that they face, but ultimately feel powerless to create any actual change. All they can do is voice themselves when given the opportunity and joke about it.



~ by mahinrahaman on October 31, 2018.