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Multi-Culturalism and the History of Poverty in the Valley

By Jacqueline Arikian

A group of different people.  A series of different stories.  A common ground:   multicultural poverty in Fresno.  On Friday, October fourth, a diverse group of   knowledgeable individuals came together in the Upstairs Cafeteria of CSUFresno and   spoke about the poverty of different cultures in Fresno.

The evening commenced with a brief, yet powerful, introduction which consisted   of two main points: 1) poor people are not poor by choice and 2) there will always be   poverty because it is a big business.  Sadly enough, there was a truth that lurked behind   those two statements, a truth that slowly unraveled as each speaker told his story.

The panel consisted of speakers, mainly campus professors, who represented the   stories of different Asian groups, African Americans, and Armenians.  All these stories   represented a part of what life once was, and in a sense still is.

The story of the Armenians, in particular, was rather interesting.  The history   commenced in describing the treatment Armenians received when they first arrived in   Fresno, facing much discrimination and prejudice in the Valley.  When the Armenians first   came to America, they faced many obstacles such as language difficulties, lack of skill to   find employment, and the hardships of poverty.  However, coming to America was not a   choice which was made willingly, for the Armenians did not see the United States as the   promise land.

The Armenians immigrated to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th   century in order to flee from the massacres and persecutions of the Turks.  They first   moved to the eastern part of the United States, concentrating their residence in areas such as   Boston, Rhode Island, and New York.  However, in search of land, they decided to move   to California, concentrating their residence in cities such as Glendale, Hollywood, and   Fresno.  Over time, they bought land and settled in California for the mere reason that it   was the closest thing to Armenia they were going to have.  As the Armenians entered the   work force, they received little money for their work, thus leading them into hardships   such as poverty.         Life in America for the Armenians was quite a hardship, as it was, and still is, for   other cultures that came to this country.  As a result of this panel discussion, one was able   to obtain a better idea about the different cultures that exist in the Valley as well as the   obstacles which they once faced and still do.