What's a Ghetto?Tuesday, June 21, 2016
A Ghetto according to my Wikipedia:
A ghetto is a part of a city in which members of a minority group live, especially because of social, legal, or economic pressure. The term was originally used in Venice to describe the part of the city to which Jews were restricted and segregated.
And the etymology of the word:
The English word ghetto comes from the Jewish area of Venice, the Venetian Ghetto in Cannaregio. However, there is no agreement among etymologists about the origins of the Venetian language term. The various theories trace it to: a special use of Venetian getto "foundry" (there was one near the site of that city's ghetto in 1516); Yiddish get "deed of separation"; a clipped form of Egitto "Egypt," from Latin Aegyptus (presumably in memory of the exile); or Italian borghetto "small section of a town" (diminutive of borgo, which is of Germanic origin; see borough). Extended by 1899 to crowded urban quarters of other minority groups (especially blacks in U.S. cities).
I know an architect who is trying to keep the look, feel and soul of Vancouver’s Chinatown alive. I don’t have the heart to tell him what I think. In a way my thought may be one I share with Vancouver Councillor Kerry Jang who is quoted in this June 18 column by Pete McMartin in the Vancouver Sun:
Vancouver Councillor. Kerry Jank has his doubts. Jang was born in Vancouver and worked as a teen in Chinatown. His grandparents lived there. His clan owns one of Chinatown’s fraternal building on East Pender. But he believes Chinatown has been too reluctant to change.
“What’s the relevance of Chinatown anymore? Does it have a reason for existence anymore? In Vancouver we live the multicultural dream. You can get Chinese groceries at every street corner. I don’t have to go back to Chinatown like in the old days, because that’s where we were allowed to live. And so this whole debate of what Chinatown should be has taken on some racist tones, which is disconcerting.”
I particularly noticed:
I don’t have to go back to Chinatown like in the old days, because that’s where we were allowed to live.
In a nutshell I believe that Vancouver’s Chinatown, for many years was a ghetto that became quaint as years went by. We (the city) have forgotten that Chinatown was the only place where Chinese immigrants of another era and, those who may have worked on building Canada’s railway, could afford to live. They were monetarily shunned from other places in the city.
I believe that we must redefine our concept of what a ghetto is. It does not have to be a designated area perhaps marked by railroad tracks (this side or that side) or some other type of boundary.
The new immigrants from the East can live wherever they want as they can afford to live where they want. As this happens, and the proof of it all, is the skyrocketing increase in the buying price of houses in Vancouver, those who cannot afford it must leave and spread to the outskirts.
I would define a ghetto in Vancouver as areas where the people who cannot afford city proper houses, condos or rentals are the people who are being ghettoized. The ghetto is now defuse but definitely not defused.
In the early 90s when houses were being torn down in my Kerrisdale neighbourhood I noticed that the new houses had very nice stone walls and other stone work. I found it symmetrical and logical that the stone masons were now English and Scottish.
Perhaps in the past ghettos existed because of differences of culture, language and religion. Now they exist for monetary reasons.