3010 middleman minorities

Compared to the number of Jewish merchants,
the number of Chinese merchants in black neigh
borhoods was insignificant. Yet, the middleman
role of the earlier Chinese immigrants in black
neighborhoods, too, received scholarly attention.
For example, Loewen (1971) emphasized the
whiteblack status gap in explaining the con
centration of Chinese immigrant families in the
Mississippi Delta in the black oriented grocery
business. Loewen argued that the social struc
ture of the Delta, characterized by rigid segre
gation, a large racial status gap, and a sizable
social distance between blacks and whites, was
mainly responsible for the Chinese immigrants
concentration and success in black oriented
grocery retailing.
Compared to a small number of Chinese
immigrants running grocery stores in black
neighborhoods in the pre 1965 era, an excep
tionally large number of post 1965 Korean
immigrants engage in grocery, liquor, produce,
and other types of retail businesses in black
neighborhoods in Los Angeles, New York,
and other major cities. The similar structural
forces relating to the whiteblack racial strati
fication system that contributed to the Jewish
owned businesses in black neighborhoods in the
earlier period have helped Korean immigrants
establish these retail stores in black neighbor
hoods (Min 1996).
Blacks in inner city neighborhoods, even in
contemporary America, have some resemblance
to indigenous colonized minorities in the
Philippines and South Africa. They still live
in an internal colony controlled by an outside
white society (Blauner 1972). Thus, the inter
nal colonial model seems to be useful to under
standing the middleman minority role of
Korean immigrants in low income black neigh
borhoods in the United States. Like middleman
minorities in other colonized societies, these
Korean merchants have encountered boycotts,
arson, and riots. However, unlike in colonized
societies, in American society various immigrant
groups have usually achieved intergenerational
social mobility. Fluent in English, second
generation Koreans have moved into the main
stream economy (Min 2005). Thus, in the
United States, a series of new immigrant groups
plays the role of middleman minorities, without
transmitting it over generations.
SEE ALSO: Assimilation; Boundaries (Racial/
Ethnic); Colonialism (Neocolonialism); Divi
sion of Labor; Majorities; Scapegoating


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