Cantonese Combats Gentrification

I was at a planning and transportation conference recently where a speaker made the following bold (but true) statement about combating gentrification – amid jeers and snickers (cause we were in Boston, and what city is more racist racial than beantown?):

In a neighborhood like Chinatown in Oakland, in order to keep folks from outside moving in and gentrifying the neighborhood, the City should make the amenities that attract outsiders more inaccessible. For example, making sure all the public signage around the parks are written in Cantonese.

oakland ctown

My thoughts? Brilliant! I realize the use of public money to benefit a few and not all is a strange concept. But how is this different than having stringent design guidelines in historic neighborhoods? Am I crazy to think that its NORMAL to see Canto signs in a Ctown!? Would I be upset if Little Italy had Italian signs? NO! Keeping the character of a neighborhood is waaay more important than having folks from the Berkeley hills rolling down in their Priuses and using Chinatown parks and deciding to buy a summer apartment near Lake Merritt BART to use as an office for their online zines.


3 thoughts on “Cantonese Combats Gentrification

  1. It’d be a lot better if the people were majority cantonese speaking, that is mostly cantonese most of the time. Nothing drives whites (AS A GROUP, not as individuals) off the end as much as seeing non-white cultures in a setting where whites don’t have control. But then, this is a redundancy, because Chinatown is one place where Cantonese speakers congregate anyway. Too bad Black San Franciscans can’t say the same; ever since the 60s, Urban Renewal has effectively destroyed a vast part of Black economic life. Anytime they want to, whites could pull the same thing on Chinatowns anywhere.


  2. This is awesome. And maybe it’s because I’m from the East Coast, but I thought public money was actually MEANT for people like the Mafia, the rich, millionaires, real estate developers, etc.


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