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.