Devon street chicago
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

For The Displaced Cultural Sectors Under Attack

Pockets of cultural diversity need more than just tourism—they need preservation to remain pivotal regions exemplary of a country of immigrants.

82
For The Displaced Cultural Sectors Under Attack
Arjun Thakkar

If I was blindfolded, thrown into a car, and brought to a certain street in Chicago, I could tell you just from the smells and sounds that I was at Devon Avenue. The combination of the distinct smell of Indian spices and sound of Indians speaking one of their hundreds of languages is most prominent along Devon (pronounced Day-vawn by the parents). While many come here to buy Indian clothes for cultural events, there is much more afoot than a mere exchange of currency for goods.

For as much as Devon is reminiscent of a bazaar with several restaurants, shops, and salons, it's also a multi-ethnic cultural hub where one finds Jewish, Pakistani, Indian, and several other communities coexisting together along one particular street. Much like any metropolitan area's Chinatown, Devon Avenue gives you a bite-sized experience of a foreign country. The rich cuisine, fine cloth materials, and only slightly unorganized traffic and parking are qualities that, though unsettling for many Americans, make an oftentimes discomforting and unfamiliar nation seem to immigrants just a little more like home.

The cultural nostalgia continues within the shops. One particular shop displays mannequins in their windows, each one adorned with jewel-embellished attire that resembles that of a king. When I visited the shop with the family to get wedding clothes, the men and women managing the store were initially busy attending to other customers, but when we stopped to look at their male attire, two saleswomen came over to woo us into buying the lavish products. They spoke in Hindi, a language I've only heard while visiting India or watching Bollywood films with the family. As they spoke to me, I looked them in the eyes and nod, but I secretly had no clue what they're saying.

It's not just the spoken language that sent me back to the Motherland; the way they spoke and the aggressiveness of their sales pitch was just as noteworthy. My mom mentioned several times how we were just there to look and not interested in buying anything, and each time, the women shut down her hesitancy and assured her that we'd end up back here after looking at every other shop. My parents asked my brother and me what we thought in Gujarati, a specific province's language, but one saleswoman somehow interjected in the same language. As we bargained to whittle their outlandish prices down, she asked us our names and complimented us based on their mythological meaning. Everyone always says they want personalized service, yet it didn't seem possible to have service that was too personal—that is, until now. Despite the invasive sales work, their insistence and speed with which they responded to us is straight out of all the sari shops I saw in India. The slice of welcoming culture made the rude sales bearable.

Well beyond our departure, the shopping experience remained on my mind as a heartwarming account of encountering a depth culture in the most unlikely of places. Visiting cultural pockets like Devon within a larger metropolitan area is a mini excursion into that is foreign to some, but welcoming to everyone who comes while respecting the residents and their culture.

Many of these cultural pockets are unfortunately facing grave issues that challenge their cultural significance. Miles south from Devon is Pilsen, a heavily Latino neighborhood in Chicago with a rich cultural background that is facing unprecedented gentrification. A University of Illinois-Chicago professor concluded that from 2000 to 2016, new housing projects and spikes in property expenses contributed to over 10,000 Latino residents moving out of the region as more wealthy white residents filled in. Local restaurants are declining as more chain businesses are taking over. Signs warn residents to know their rights should they face threats from ICE agents or raids. Beautiful wall graffiti acts as a mirror image of anti-gentrification messages made in response to the process of cultural disintegration.

The threat of gentrification is sadly not unique to Pilsen, as many of these sectors face an incoming crisis of culture. As a nation, these pockets of minority populations and cultures are not just to be respected but appreciated for bringing elements of their culture to a completely different country and enhancing its diversity. If everyone truly loves going to their Chinatown or Kris Kringle Markets, then we have to work to preserve regions like these, lest they be made more sparse than they already are.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
New Year Resolutions

It's 2024! You drank champagne, you wore funny glasses, and you watched the ball drop as you sang the night away with your best friends and family. What comes next you may ask? Sadly you will have to return to the real world full of work and school and paying bills. "Ah! But I have my New Year's Resolutions!"- you may say. But most of them are 100% complete cliches that you won't hold on to. Here is a list of those things you hear all around the world.

Keep Reading...Show less
Lifestyle

The Ultimate Birthday: Unveiling the Perfect Day to Celebrate!

Let's be real, the day your birthday falls on could really make or break it.

41615
​different color birthday candles on a cake
Blacksburg Children's Museum

You heard it here first: birthdays in college are some of the best days of your four years. For one day annually, you get to forget about your identity as a stressed, broke, and overworked student, and take the time to celebrate. You can throw your responsibilities for a day, use your one skip in that class you hate, receive kind cards and gifts from loved ones and just enjoy yourself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

Unleash Inspiration: 15 Relatable Disney Lyrics!

Leave it to Disney to write lyrics that kids of all ages can relate to.

60739
The 15 most inspiring Disney songs

Disney songs are some of the most relatable and inspiring songs not only because of the lovable characters who sing them, but also because of their well-written song lyrics. While some lyrics make more sense with knowledge of the movie's story line that they were written for, other Disney lyrics are very relatable and inspiring for any listener.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

The Six Most Iconic Pitbull Lyrics Of All Time

Mr. Worldwide just wants to see you succeed.

78985
a photo of artist Pitbull

It is no secret that Pitbull is a gifted artist, but many fail to remember that he can be a source of great inspiration as well. The following is a list of iconic Pitbull lyrics that we know and love. Read on to feel empowered — if you think you can handle it.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

11 Essential Expectations for Becoming the Ultimate Cheermeister

Mastering Festive Expectations: Tips to Shine as Your Holiday Cheermeister

107907
Crazy for Christmas

So you’ve elected yourself as this year's Holiday Cheermeister, there’s no shame in that. The holidays are your pride and joy, and you've taken on the responsibility to get everyone in the spirit. With only one week until Christmas, here are some things we expect from you, Cheermeister.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments