Lady Liberty smiles
Despite the tired melting pot analogy, New York City has long really resembled more of a buffet, with a variety of people from all kinds of ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds coexisting in enclaves little and big of their own around the city, a sign of the city’s powerful draw and the opportunities it provided.
Now it seems like we had the right idea the first time around, as New York’s old-country neighborhoods are melting together and growing as new ethnic and racial communities rise up around the long-dominant groups. That’s according to a detailed report on so-called communities of interest prepared by CUNY researchers for the NYC Districting Commission using 2020 census data.
The researchers detailed all number of fascinating trends, like a growing Asian population bolstered not only by the historically large population of Chinese New Yorkers, but a rising populace of South Asians including from India and Bangladesh, or a changing Black community that saw sharply a decreasing African-American population somewhat evened out by significant increases in African and Afro Latino arrivals.
The through line though, is that despite years of overheated rhetoric, Donald Trump’s heavy-handed enforcement, and plenty of concern and hand-wringing over the arrival of migrants over the last several months, New York remains truly a city of immigrants, continuously transforming and rejuvenated by their arrival. The report’s authors noted that immigration has counteracted other population losses and kept the city from shrinking.
This highlights the forever symbiotic relationship between the city’s residents of old and the immigrant newcomers, who will take their own place as New Yorkers and keep our culture and economy churning and expanding, contrary to myths about immigrants using up resources and taking opportunities away from other New Yorkers. Having these communities be increasingly diffuse and with less rigid lines between them can be a challenge for political representation and organization, but it can also ease divisions and create common cause. Here’s to the immigrant past and immigrant future of New York, whatever it may bring.