environmental racism

Dept. of miserable jobs: Sugarhouse's Asian Marketing Executive

(Update: Read WHYY's story here)

Remember how Chinatown made that big ole fuss over a neighborhood casino?

Here's more proof why: Sugarhouse’s Asian Marketing Exec:

Sugarhouse Asian marketing exec-Part1

Sugarhouse Asian marketing exec-Part2-c

Sugarhouse Asian marketing exec-Part3

Side note: It’s particularly nice to know the qualifications are in keeping with Sugarhouse’s top-notch standards, i.e. "regularly required to walk, stand, see, talk and hear." (don't want to surprise applicants with unexpected job requirements!)

Environmental racism, Chinatown and the Gallery casino

Gambling and gambling addiction in Asian communities is a well-known problem. Jennifer Lin’s Inquirer story today shows just how severe it is. Among the stunning statistics:

  • A survey of southeast Asian refugees in Connecticut (where statewide they only have two casinos), found that 59% were pathological gamblers.
  • In Atlantic City, an estimated 15-20% of revenues come from Asian gamblers.
  • A national study found that Asians had a prevalence of pathological gambling three times higher than whites.

Studies in general on Asian particularly Asian immigrant mental health problems are limited by the lack of bilingual and culturally responsive outreach. But for people on the ground level the concern about gambling addiction is overwhelming. The few doctors and family health counselors who work in Asian immigrant communities all point to gambling addiction as a major problem in Asian immigrant communities. But even more relevant is the lack of available help for immigrant gambling addicts.

Access to help already is a problem for Asians who don't speak English.

"Treatment of gambling addiction that is culturally competent is nonexistent in Philadelphia," said Philip Siu, founder of Chinatown Medical Services, the city's largest community health center for Asians.

Gamblers Anonymous, the best-known self-help group for compulsive gamblers, does not offer local meetings in Asian languages. The state-supported Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania hands out printed information on how to get help, but not in Asian languages.

Last week, I and one of the leaders of the Chinatown community went door to door to businesses to do a sample survey of their feelings about the casino. We found that more than 80% of businesses oppose the proposed casino or needed more information (this latter group was less than 10% of respondents). The number one concern cited, even by those who supported a casino, was the concern about gambling and gambling addiction. It wasn’t a generic fear of gambling. It was literally: I am afraid my husband, or my mother, or my children will be at the casino.

So what does that mean for the city? In our meeting with city officials, most professed that they had no knowledge that gambling was any greater a problem in Chinatown than in other communities. We’re willing to give them that. But now that concrete evidence indicates that not only could there be a serious problem, but that the city and state centers are poorly equipped to handle such a problem, what does it mean for the city to go ahead and continue to place the casino next to such a vulnerable community?

For many people in the community, this is what environmental racism looks like. It’s not only that a tiny residential community has endured 30 years of urban renewal projects that have taken away half the land and destroyed a third of the housing. It’s not just that there’s a lack of investment in the community – Chinatown despite being one of Philly’s oldest immigrant neighborhoods still lacks a public library, health clinic, rec center, or neighborhood public school.

Environmental racism also raises its head when there’s evidence of mental health problems and lack of infrastructure to address such problems, but all we get is a social worker or Foxwoods-sponsored counseling program or some translated brochures about gambling addiction. That just doesn’t cut it.

There are lots of things wrong with this site, but dismissing Chinatown’s anguish over the sufferings of its own people is not only cruel, it’s environmental racism at its clearest.

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