The Los Angeles Times has an article on the challenges faced by Little Bangladesh, the nascent ethnic enclave that was officially carved out of the much larger, more dominant, and far-longer established Koreatown.
In addition to Koreatown Koreans' opposition to L'il Bang's efforts to get a bigger piece of the pie, the Bangladelenos (um... that's Bangladeshi Angelenos) must work at filling out the space it was given:
Community leaders applied for the neighborhood recognition more than a year ago. At first, the goal was much grander: to designate a 56-square-block area from 3rd to Wilshire Boulevard and from Western Avenue to Vermont Avenue — an area generally considered part of Koreatown — as Little Bangladesh.I have mixed feelings about such ethnic enclaves. If they come about "organically," as Koreatown did (and Little Bangladesh as well), that's fine, as long as they aren't ghettoized. That is, it's great to have a cultural gathering place of sorts (specialty supermarkets, fine restaurants, places of worship, karaoke in that language, etc.) for an ethnic or cultural group in a city or metropolitan area whose members might be spread out over a larger area, but not only should it not exclude people who are not a part of that group, I believe it should also act as a bridge to them.
The Korean community, which had not previously sought an official designation for the area, countered with its own application. And when the City Council voted on the matter in August, the Bangladeshis got only a four-block stretch of 3rd Street between Alexandria and New Hampshire avenues as their own.
But that strip doesn't yet have the look or feel of a Little Bangladesh. Most stores in the area cater to a Korean or Latino clientele, and many of the dozen or so Bangladeshi stores are blocks away. Aside from a handful of restaurants and grocery stores, the neighborhood features almost no other Bangladeshi shops or services: no clothing boutiques selling salwar kameez, the traditional two-piece attire worn by both men and women; no jewelry shops for bangles; no souvenir shops; no salons offering henna and threading services. And since it closed about a year ago, no community center either.
Since they began their effort, local Bangladeshis have been trying, with limited success so far, to open and relocate businesses to the area, both to show their presence and to provide needed services for the thousands of lower- to middle-income Bangladeshi immigrant families who live there.
Ethnic enclaves are not just a chance to come together, but also a chance to share one's culture with everyone else. I wrote of similar sentiments here, especially as it relates to signage, which I think should always include English:
Because of that I support efforts to require that public signs (e.g., on businesses, etc.) place English as dominant or equal to whatever other language the sign might be in. At the very least, signs intended for the public should not be exclusively in a language other than English.People shouldn't be made to feel like strangers in their own neighborhood.
I happen to know that 여행사 means "travel agency" and 순두부 means "tofu stew," but Mr Crow may not. And that means he will not venture into those places and instead will feel isolated from his own surroundings. Shopping centers with signs like this one from the staged Korean shopping plaza in CSI will only lead to ethnic stratification, and that's good for no one.