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Why do some types of people tend to work in certain types of places?
October 17, 2012 12:19 PM   Subscribe

Why do I so rarely see first-generation Chinese immigrants working in ethnically diverse businesses, while I so often see Latino immigrants working in just about every type of business? One thousand qualifiers and anecdata inside.

To be absolutely clear: I'm painting in very broad strokes. It's possible the premise of this AskMe is basically wrong, or that I'm wrongly focusing on these two subsets of people while ignoring others. If so, weigh in! I'm not certain that any of what I write below is evidence of a larger trend -- it's more a half-formed question based on my own observations and ignorance, and it is not meant to offend anyone (I don't believe that it will, just unambiguously stating my intention). Also let's be clear that I'm assuming a lot: that I know who's Chinese-American or Latin-American at a glance, that most of the people I'm talking about are in fact first-generation immigrants, etc. Let's agree that I could easily be wrong about almost every single thing that I posit below. Finally: I don't mean to imply a value judgement, that any of these are hard-and-fast rules, or that there aren't loads of counterexamples to the contrary.

I live in Brooklyn and I work in Manhattan. It appears to me that, first-generation Chinese immigrants often work in what seem to be businesses owned and operated by Chinese-Americans. This isn't just in Chinatown or Flushing, it's all over the city that I've seen.

I'm thinking first of Chinese restaurants, in many of which the entire staff, from the server to the chef to the busboy, are ethnically Chinese. Sometimes there are Latinos bussing tables, but very often not -- the staff seems to be Chinese down to the last person. This is unlike almost any other kind of restaurant I can think of -- there are a zillion Latinos in the food industry, but rarely in Chinese restaurants. Other examples include electronics shops, hardware stores, repair stores, and on and on. I walked into a small computer store today, staffed by two Chinese guys, which is what got me thinking about this question. (Am I certain that it was owned by Chinese-Americans? No, but I lived in China long enough to make a reasonably educated guess that it is, and I'll bet you'd agree with that assumption if you'd been there). Similarly, at the laundromat down the street from my apartment, I always see the same three Chinese ladies, and nobody else, working there.

By contrast, I see lots of Latino-American immigrants working in diverse environments. (Do I know they're immigrants? Of course not, but if you live in a city where half the residents -- including myself -- are transplants, it's not crazy to figure that there's a good chance that someone with a strong Spanish-inflected accent is originally from Latin America).

For example, there are lots and lots of Latino/as who work at the deli I always go to -- there's also an Egyptian lady at the register, and a couple of white guys behind the counter. There are no Chinese people who work there, though, or at any of the delis I frequent. I go to this greengrocer about 4 times a week -- I believe that the owner is Korean and the guys restocking the shelves are (always) Latino. I go to Ess-a-bagel whenever I'm in the area, and the guys (and gal) who work there are all either Jewish or Latino.

I see Latinos working in all kinds of restaurants -- Thai, Italian, American, whatever. When I go to a diner, about 2/3 of the time the guy refilling my water glass and clearing the empty plates from my table is Latino. I cannot think of a single example of a Chinese-American guy bussing tables, or taking orders, or cooking the food -- unless I'm in a Chinese food place. But at the "Greek" diner? Latino guys. Burger joint? Latino guys. Pizza place? Latino guys. But I'm just not seeing the ethnically Chinese cashiers, short-order cooks, and busboys in these kinds of places.

I'll very frequently see Latino guys on a construction crew that also includes white and black guys. When I see Chinese guys doing construction, it's a good bet that everyone on the crew is Chinese-American -- you never see a construction crew of like five Polish-Americans, and three Chinese-Americans (do you? I mean, I don't).

Again: I know that people of Chinese and Latino extraction have all kinds of employment -- I work with a number of them in my white-collar tech job; I've had Latino and Chinese doctors, teachers, whatever (This isn't meant as a "I can't be racist, some of my best friends are ____!" defense, I just mean to say that obviously, all kinds of people do all kinds of work, but for the purposes of this question, I'm talking about firs- or second-generation immigrants who open businesses, and people in the service industry, in New York, and in these two demographic groups). There are lots of parts of the city I've never been to where these trends might be completely untrue, and my observations are about as anecdotal as they come. I understand that. But I'd be curious if anyone has insight, or has evidence for or against the premise of the question, or can explain it in terms of language, or money, or immigration trends, or this city/big cities in general, or cultural tradition… or anything.
posted by andromache to Human Relations (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
A big part of this is probably just that Latino residents of NYC outnumber Asian residents by (almost) 3:1.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:25 PM on October 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Assuming your observations are accurate, I would seek out data on business ownership and employment sorted by ethnicity.

My assumption would be that there are enough small businesses owned by Chinese-Americans to hire most or many of the available Chinese-American or Chinese immigrant workers.

Conversely, my further assumption would be that there are not enough businesses owned by Latino-Americans immigrants to hire most or many of the Latino-American or Latino immigrant workers, so those workers seek employment elsewhere.
posted by notyou at 12:36 PM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here in the SF Bay Area I know of one Chinese restaurant where the maitre'd and servers are Asian but the busboys and most of the cooks are Hispanic. Kirin in Berkeley. I imagine there are several factors:

1) Spanish is spoken widely in California and the US, so a worker who only knows Spanish can get a job in more restaurants than a worker who only knows Mandarin or Cantonese.

2) Managers like to hire people who are known - friends of friends. And Hispanic and Chinese immigrants are more likely to be connected to members of their own ethnic communities, so you see a multiplier effect at businesses who have previously hired members of one or the other ethnic groups.

3) There are, I am guessing, way more recent Hispanic immigrants than Chinese, and given the relative ease of immigrating illegally to the US from Mexico (overland) vs China (overseas), you have more Hispanic workers willing to work illegally, which can be much cheaper.
posted by zippy at 12:40 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


... a consequence of those (wild) assumptions would be: restaurants are more likely to have either Chinese or Hispanic staff, and are overall more likely to have Hispanic staff. So Chinese immigrants' opportunities are where their ethnic and language ties are advantages.
posted by zippy at 12:41 PM on October 17, 2012


Asian owned businesses, NYC, 2007: 153,885
Hispanic owned businesses, NYC, 2007: 143,000

For some really rough estimates it seems that Asians are roughly 3x as likely to own their business as Hispanics. Because of this it seems like Hispanics would be more likely to have to look outside their race group for employment.

153,885/976,807= 15.75% of NYC Asians own a business
143,000/2,287,905 = 6.25% of NYC Hispanics own a business
________________________________________________
(There are a lot of problems with this obviously, for example one person can own multiple businesses, no idea how many people a business employs, etc. I suggest you poke around the Census Bureau's 2007 report.)
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:52 PM on October 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


A few things come to mind.

First, many immigrants from Asian countries are here legally, either having refugee status, being related to American citizens (or marrying them), or via some other method not commonly available to Hispanic immigrants such as having an advanced degree. I think you'd probably be surprised at how many Chinese restaurant owners have Ph.D.s in engineering or some such. That means they can transact business legally and don't need to be paid under the table, which permits them to own and operate small businesses in the clear.

Second, because they're immigrating legally, many Asians bring some property with them. It may not be much, but it may well be enough to get a restaurant business or similar enterprise going, especially when the family all works for preferential wages and profits are used to benefit the family as a whole rather than the owner as owner. A Hispanic crossing the border with the help of a coyote is far more likely to bring debt than assets and is in no position to start a business.

Third, Asians, similar to Hispanics but different from most Americans, have an incredible sense of family and filial piety. Businesses are family affairs. It's not just that everyone in the restaurant is Chinese (or whatever), it's that everyone in the restaurant is related to the owner. A Chinese business owner is going to go looking for relatives to hire, and a Chinese worker looking for a job is going to go looking for relatives to hire him. This goes hand-in-hand with the legal immigration bit, as it's possible for a legal Chinese immigrant to look for work in ways that an illegal Hispanic immigrant can't. I'd be willing to bet that if there are a bunch of Latino guys on a work crew that a fair number of them are related a decent amount of the time, but this is harder to organize and maintain if the business isn't a family business.

Fourth, there really are a lot more Hispanics/Latinos than there are Asians in this country. Something like 5% of the country is of Asian extraction, but something like 16% of the country is of Hispanic/Latino extraction. You're just going to see a lot more Hispanics, period.
posted by valkyryn at 12:54 PM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


It seems to me that Latino business owners that are first or second generation also staff their businesses with other Latinos. It's not just a Chinese immigrant thing.

I also suspect that the geographical barriers to immigration make it harder for Chinese people to get into the country in any other way than by visa, which means they have familial or employer support in the US. In contrast, there are more geographical opportunities for immigrants from Central and South America to get into the country illegally, and consequently the people that do take jobs where ever they can. That is absolutely not to say that most Latinos you see are probably undocumented, but those that are do not require familial assistance to be here and have more freedom (of a kind) to work other places.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:55 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


My initial hunch is a combination of
1) over-estimating the number of first-generation Hispanic population
2) Asian immigrants are likely wealthier than Hispanic immigrants.

The middle-class nature of Asian immigration is what fuels the stereotype that Asians are smarter, more hardworking, and thus have assimilated better than Hispanic immigrants. In fact they just happen to come to America with the education and funds that make the transition a bit easier by being further ahead on the class ladder. Asian immigrants are more likely to come over with their family and some nest egg to start a company. Hispanic immigrants are more likely to be younger, unmarried, with few assets.

The demographic difference means that professional networking is going to be different. Asian demographics are more likely to have a business owner in the community looking to hire someone just putting down roots. The Hispanic community instead will get more referrals from co-workers who work for someone from a different ethnic community.

(All this is based on demographic data I'm remembering from college. So it will slowly be out of date. But the geographic proximity of Mexico vs Asia will probably always skew the Asian immigration a bit richer than random chance would suggest.)
posted by politikitty at 12:56 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


When you say First Generation, are you talking about people who, themselves, immigrated, or their children (I've seen it used both ways)? Also, to what extent are you considering that immigration is a lot more complicated than that? For example, people born in the US but raised by relatives in the "old country" who then came back to the US as adults, people born abroad who immigrated as small children, not to mention various levels of assimilation into the wider culture.

It also occurs to me that you're comparing two non-congruent groups. Latin-American includes a HUGE swathe of different communities with different histories in the US and different levels of opportunity. On the other hand, Chinese-Americans are Americans of Chinese ancestry. There are of course different situations and outcomes among Chinese-Americans, but with Latin-Americans you're talking about people from totally different countries. The experience of an Argentinian-American is going to be pretty different from the experience of a Puerto Rican-American or Mexican-American.

I'd imagine that exactly where you're talking about has a lot to do with it, too. Chinese-Americans in Los Angeles occupy a different part of the social stratum from Chinese-Americans in New York. To mention only one example -- there are also divides between immigrants in major cities vs. suburban/rural areas, and really the sky's the limit. Growing up in the rural south, one could not generalize across nationalities what someone would do for a living or whether they'd work for a family business or not, whereas in New York you have ideas like Korean delis and Equadorian restaurant cooks.
posted by Sara C. at 1:09 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm thinking first of Chinese restaurants, in many of which the entire staff, from the server to the chef to the busboy, are ethnically Chinese. Sometimes there are Latinos bussing tables, but very often not -- the staff seems to be Chinese down to the last person.

Not here in LA--the place might be owned by Chinese, patronized by Chinese, but still have a whole kitchen crew from Oaxaca.

But sometimes Asians (Chinese and Koreans) belong to community organizations and have loans from those groups to start a business and then hire from within that same group. Same with churches.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:09 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I once attempted to apply for work in a Chinese restaurant (I am first generation mixed race Latina, native English speaker). They were very, very surprised I'd want to work there and explained it would be impossible because all all communication in the kitchen-written orders, conversation-was in Cantonese. They did speak English, as demonstrated by the fact we were able to have this conversation.

This can't explain every instance, but I imagine if you were a business owner who was most comfortable conversing in X Chinese Dialect, you would hire workers who spoke X Chinese Dialect; and if you were an entry level worker who was most comfortable conversing in X Chinese Dialect, you would have a hard time getting hired where that was not the preferred language.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:12 PM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


It occurs to me that you might be talking about money and class rather than immigration and ethnicity, per se. You might be hitting on something about the ways that lower-class immigrant communities cope with a lack of resources. Which is pretty interesting.

But keep in mind that the divide between the Latina hedge fund manager and the Latina office cleaner is probably not being born in the US or not, or being first or second or twentieth generation. That divide is between someone who has certain kinds of social and financial resources and somebody who doesn't.

Similarly, Chinese-American families with status don't make their kids work in the family restaurant or what have you -- they send them to prestigious colleges just like all American families with status do.
posted by Sara C. at 1:19 PM on October 17, 2012


I believe immigration policy still holds family ties as a favorable path to legal migration. As mentioned, legal immigrants from China may tend to bring capital, if nothing else, with them, to seed business ventures, and create an anchor for further migrants via family tie. Thus, there may be a tendency for Chinese migrant owned businesses to be largely staffed by Chinese migrants dependent on the anchor migrant/business not only for a job but for legal status.

Latino workers in low end service industry jobs, on the other hand, may have arrived in the US via less than legitimate ways, and are not beholden to any particular host for anything other than a wage.
posted by 2N2222 at 1:32 PM on October 17, 2012


if you were a business owner who was most comfortable conversing in X Chinese Dialect, you would hire workers who spoke X Chinese Dialect; and if you were an entry level worker who was most comfortable conversing in X Chinese Dialect, you would have a hard time getting hired where that was not the preferred language.

This calls to mind a data point that might be of interest to andromache.

I once went on a foodie adventure to a Korean BBQ joint in Flushing, Queens, where nobody on staff spoke English. However, one of the people I was there with is Chinese and happens to speak a dialect that a lot of Chinese restaurant workers tend to know. The restaurant in question had some Chinese-American waitstaff, one of whom happened to speak the same dialect. So we were able to order food in this Korean restaurant by interpreting through a specific Chinese dialect.

Which implies that the idea that Chinese-Americans tend to stick to Chinese-American businesses might not be true. Either that, or it's a total fluke that we ran into a Chinese-American waiter at a Korean-American restaurant.
posted by Sara C. at 1:34 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]



Second, because they're immigrating legally, many Asians bring some property with them. It may not be much, but it may well be enough to get a restaurant business or similar enterprise going, especially when the family all works for preferential wages and profits are used to benefit the family as a whole rather than the owner as owner. A Hispanic crossing the border with the help of a coyote is far more likely to bring debt than assets and is in no position to start a business.
...
I also suspect that the geographical barriers to immigration make it harder for Chinese people to get into the country in any other way than by visa, which means they have familial or employer support in the US. In contrast, there are more geographical opportunities for immigrants from Central and South America to get into the country illegally, and consequently the people that do take jobs where ever they can. That is absolutely not to say that most Latinos you see are probably undocumented, but those that are do not require familial assistance to be here and have more freedom (of a kind) to work other places.


These are very good points -- exactly the kind explanation I was looking for.

When you say First Generation, are you talking about people who, themselves, immigrated, or their children (I've seen it used both ways)?

Oh, I meant someone born in another country who emigrated to the U.S. I didn't know that First Generation could also mean "born in the U.S. to parents who were born elsewhere" but that completely makes sense.

It also occurs to me that you're comparing two non-congruent groups. Latin-American includes a HUGE swathe of different communities with different histories in the US and different levels of opportunity. On the other hand, Chinese-Americans are Americans of Chinese ancestry. There are of course different situations and outcomes among Chinese-Americans, but with Latin-Americans you're talking about people from totally different countries.

Yes, absolutely. Obviously in China you have Cantonese and Mandarin, and the odd non-Han Chinese minority group, but you're exactly right that comparing immigrants from one country to immigrants from a couple dozen countries on different continents is... probably an apples-to-oranges situation.

It occurs to me that you might be talking about money and class rather than immigration and ethnicity, per se... But keep in mind that the divide between the Latina hedge fund manager and the Latina office cleaner is probably not being born in the US or not, or being first or second or twentieth generation. That divide is between someone who has certain kinds of social and financial resources and somebody who doesn't.

Right, well said. I stumbled over phrasing when writing this, in part because I kept conflating all of these things. Despite that, you certainly have understood my meaning and pointed out the money/class issue that I didn't. It's a good distinction to draw and it shines a different light on the question.

I once attempted to apply for work in a Chinese restaurant (I am first generation mixed race Latina, native English speaker). They were very, very surprised I'd want to work there and explained it would be impossible because all all communication in the kitchen-written orders, conversation-was in Cantonese. They did speak English, as demonstrated by the fact we were able to have this conversation.

That's fascinating, Juliet Banana.

Thanks everyone for taking time to answer. As always I'm grateful to this community for taking time to engage with and articulately respond to my questions.
posted by andromache at 2:25 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Latino workers in low end service industry jobs, on the other hand, may have arrived in the US via less than legitimate ways

People keep bringing this up, and I don't think it's offensive or anything, but keep in mind that a massively hugely GIGANTIC proportion of Latin-Americans didn't technically immigrate at all.

The Puerto Rican community in New York came to the mainland as US citizens. Puerto Ricans are the predominant Latin-American community in New York City.

A lot of Mexican-American families have been living in what is now the US as long as most white families, if not longer. There's a very long history of (totally legal and even encouraged) emigration from Mexico to the US. Just because you're ethnically Mexican doesn't mean you're an immigrant or the child/grandchild of recent immigrants.

I'm not trying to play PC police here, but reminding everyone that a lot of the people we're talking about in this thread are not immigrants at all. Which is something that makes the original question really tough to answer.
posted by Sara C. at 2:28 PM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


For what it's worth I'm second-gen Chinese American and I live in Manhattan Chinatown. I think the premise of your question might be flawed because here in New York I've seen Hispanic workers in Chinese-owned businesses, mostly dishwashers and bussers at restaurants. It is not that common but not unheard of either. Just this weekend I was up in Flushing at Nan Xiang Dumpling House and as I was leaving I saw a group of the kitchen staff taking a smoke break outside. They all looked Hispanic and were speaking Spanish to each other. There is at least one Hispanic looking waiter at Nam Son on Grand st (I know it's a Vietnamese restaurant but it's owned by ethnically Chinese people like most NYC Vietnamese places). And this could be a figment of my imagination but I'm pretty sure I've seen Hispanic shelf stockers at some of the big Chinese supermarkets. I think there might be a larger number of Hispanics working in the "back office" at Chinese restaurants than I think because I rarely get to peer into the kitchen. And of course there's the Hispanic Chinese grocery in the LES (kidding on this one, I don't know the ethnic makeup of their staff though it seems like it would be a diverse kind of place...) As well, I've seen a decent amount of Hispanic only businesses, e.g. the shoeshine team who go around at my office all seem Hispanic.

But yes I do see where your question is coming from and I think it's because it is relatively more common for Chinese immigrants to own their own business than other non-Asian immigrants. As well, many of these businesses cater mainly to other Chinese people (e.g. restaurant, grocery, hair salon) so they need to hire workers who have the knowhow (e.g. cooking Chinese food, cutting Asian hair) or speak the language of their primary customer base. As well, the owners might not speak English so well, making it easier to hire workers who speak the same language (and vice versa). Most of the job postings for cashiers or waitstaff that I see around Chinatown request that you speak both English and Chinese. But if all of these businesses cater mainly to Chinese people and employ Chinese people you might think it sounds like kind of a Ponzi scheme, which leads to my next point that many first-generation Chinese immigrants do work at non-Chinese businesses, just that these tend to be white collar businesses. For example I work at an investment bank and Chinese are the single most common ethnic group after whites by a fair margin, and a high proportion are first-gen.

In the case of a business that does not obviously cater to Chinese people (e.g. the computer shop you mentioned) then it's almost certainly a family owned business and it's usually somewhat obvious if you observe the interaction between the staff.

As others have mentioned there's also way more Hispanic immigrants than Chinese immigrants, and assuming an immigrant prefers to work in a business of his/her ethnic group first, combined with the relatively smaller proportion of Hispanic owned businesses, it would lead more Hispanics to seek employment at a business not of the same ethnic group.

The only point I've pondered is why on earth don't Duane Reade and other big chains staff their stores with the girls who work at the checkout in Chinese groceries. They handle a huge amount of customer flow, are lightning fast, speak enough English to ring you up, and have about the same amount of customer service bedside manner as the average Duane Reade cashier. My guess is they either get paid the big bucks for working the tills or Duane Reade doesn't give a shit about how long people need to queue up (probably the latter).
posted by pravit at 4:40 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also my wife tells me that one time when she went to Deluxe Food Market in Chinatown (the long hallway-esque store connecting Mott and Elizabeth that sells mainly meat and prepared foods) to buy meat, they brought over a Hispanic butcher who could speak English who apparently helped the non-Chinese customers. She's also seen Hispanic shelf stockers at Hong Kong Supermarket and some of the greengrocers on Mott street so it wasn't just my imagination.
posted by pravit at 5:39 PM on October 17, 2012


Another important factor (in addition to the language and the family) is probably that these businesses are hiring through personal contacts instead of advertising openly, and therefore the pool of candidates will be almost entirely Chinese.

When was the last time you saw a Chinese-own shop with a "HELP WANTED" sign? Instead of advertising openly, the owner is much more likely to put out the word through his existing employees and his own acquaintances that he's looking for someone. Or maybe those people would bring him candidates even when he's not actively looking.

These methods are preferred because they mean every candidate comes with a reference, and also because culturally there's a strong tendency toward doing business through acquaintances this way.

As a result, unless you're connected with the local community, you'll never even hear about these openings. And if you are connected with the local community, then for the language and family reasons mentioned above you'll probably be Chinese.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:29 PM on October 17, 2012


I have no idea if this is still true, but the story in NYC used to be that immigrants from Asian countries very commonly formed co-ops. So like, you came from Korea, you'd open a Korean grocers on a corner, and several families would work that business (which is why Korean grocers were open 24/7 before everything was open 24/7.) After a couple of years, you'd take the profits and one of the families would go off and open a new corner grocery with a new group. Wash, rinse, repeat.

As far as I'm aware, there was no similar Latino tradition. So you mostly had Chinese and Korean people working Chinese and Korean businesses, whereas Latinos went to work in a much wider range of businesses, more or less out of necessity.

(I will be surprised to learn this is all bullshit, but then, I learn something new every day.)
posted by DarlingBri at 8:45 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


DarlingBri has the correct answer I believe, in the case of Asian immigrants these are called "benevolent associations". If you walk around any Chinatown you will see the buildings for these organizations, they are kind of like community centers.

I'm a white dude who lives in Chinatown, but my understanding of it has been that these benevolent associations will assist families in making the move to the states. Part of that is either setting them up with jobs for when they get here (obviously makes immigration much easier with a visa sponsor, etc.) or also helping them start their own businesses (by navigating local building codes, inspections, etc, providing capital, or workers who speak Mandarin/Cantonese). In return these businesses pay dues into the benevolent association, which provides social services and support for immigrants and continues the cycle. This is basically how Chinatowns are built, and why there really isn't a Hispanic equivalent.

The benevolent association closest to my apartment has a huge wall of notices for job and apartment openings tacked up... and they are all in Chinese, which I'm sure plays a large part.
posted by bradbane at 1:59 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


When was the last time you saw a Chinese-own shop with a "HELP WANTED" sign?

I actually see this somewhat often around Chinatown and Flushing, but the signs are usually in Chinese only. Off the top of my head Fay Da bakery has a posting for sales staff (I think even in English!)
posted by pravit at 3:46 PM on October 18, 2012


I think the other point to remember here is that there aren't really as many first-generation Hispanic immigrants in NYC as you might think there are. People may appear to be first-generation because they're speaking in Spanish and have low-paying jobs, but in fact, that may not mean anything.
posted by corb at 8:03 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, so interesting about the Benevolent Associations, DarlingBri! I've seen those signs and never had any idea what they meant. Thanks to corb, politikitty, and others who pointed out the problems with my assumption that most low-wage, Spanish-speaking workers are immigrants. I really have no way of knowing that short of asking, and I'll keep it in mind next time I make a snap judgement about this kind of thing.

I'm grateful that everyone's answers were educational and charitable regardless of the question's flaws. I'm really amazed by the tone every time I ask or answer here (and I'm disappointed that there aren't more spaces on the web like this). Many thanks to you all.
posted by andromache at 11:39 AM on October 19, 2012


andromache, you might be interested in this 2005 NYT article about the Chinatown employment agencies that fill Chinese restaurant positions all across the United States. This definitely helps to illustrate the framework that undergirds Chinese businesses.
posted by jocelmeow at 5:34 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


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