Since Jewel came to America at the age of 7, Jewel had to overcome many conflictions growing up. Receiving Public School education was very common for immigrants in Jackson Heights, but the community enforced cultural values to come first. Jewel explains that in her community, everyone is familiar with one of their own. The community involves itself majorly within their members and this causes the divide between newer generations and out-of-touch older generations. The mentality for many Indian families is to produce adhering children, absorbing and retaining culture as they grow older.
One important aspect of this is found with many families in Little India restricting their children from participating in after-school activities and implement strong discipline.
While Jewel asserts that she could not imagine herself without her culture, she makes clear that deviation was not an option especially for those involved in the community.
Jewel currently attends Hunter College and at the Butala Emporium in Jackson Heights, NY.
Looking into the stores in Little India gave us a lot of insight into what the Jackson Heights Indian community values: traditional food and clothing. It was hard to keep track of all of the different foods pictured on signs and visible through storefront windows, especially when most of them are advertised in a language none of us understand. The attitudes of mom-and-pop stores became more timid when we entered, brandishing our cameras and trying to pronounce the seemingly jumbled letters labeling each item.
“The mentality of most is to serve this community while striving to increase their businesses.”
When we tried to approach the entrepreneurs behind the counter we were met with a whole lot of skepticism and questions about the purpose of our interviews. Considering the current immigration tensions in our country, it’s no surprise that they were hesitant to share any information regarding their families and their lives. However, after much effort, I was able to have an untaped conversation with a store owner who shared that she and her husband had immigrated to Jackson Heights 6 years ago, moving in with his cousin who had moved to the area a year prior. She went on to disclose that they had moved here because their small-scale bakery was making little to no business in India. Here, however, she states that she has taken a managerial position at her cousin’s restaurant Delhi Heights.
Jackson Heights Station Modern Day – https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/Cf554kzjQkFf7ykCqUBgj1aEE8E=/800×0/filters:no_upscale()/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/4380197/15_kensinger_jackson_heights_DSC_9105.0.jpg
Jackson Heights Station Black and White – https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/c5/8e/57/c58e573f7b0379775603702ff6d5df3c.jpg
Jackson Heights Theater Modern Day – Courtesy of Frankie’s Apartment – http://frankiesapartment.com/shlog/category/storytime/page/10/
Jackson Heights Sketch Courtesy of Greater Astoria Historical Society Online Repository
Maps provided by Social Explorer:
Population Density, 2005. Social Explorer, (based on data from U.S. Census Bureau; accessed May 13 17:16:03 EST 2017).
Population Density, 2015. Social Explorer, (based on data from U.S. Census Bureau; accessed May 13 17:23:03 EST 2017).
Papri Chaat photograph courtesy of Patel Brother’s Supermarket
Little Pakistan Pedestrian Sidewalk – Courtesy of Edrien Diaz
80th Street Pedestrian Sidewalk – Courtesy of Untapped Cities featured on The Real Deal
Delhi Heights photograph – Courtesy of Edrien Diaz
Patel Brothers cover photograph- Courtesy of Edrien Diaz
Jewel R. – Interview Permitted use granted courtesy of Jewel R.