Lucky Nashville labeled “Little Kurdistan”
Posted by Ann Corcoran on February 27, 2010
Here is a long article entitled, ‘Nashville Tennessee: Kurdish Capital of America’ at The Comment Factory. I’ve selected a few paragraphs that interested me in this gooey, everything is just lovely story, but please read the whole article.
Thank Catholic Charities!
Kurds have struggled to build a new haven in Nashville, and director of refugee and immigration services at Catholic Charities of Tennessee Holly Johnson says “they have changed Nashville.”
Kurds are arriving in Nashville from all over America looking for jobs!
NPT’s (Nashville Public Television*) portrayal of the Kurdish community has contributed to a growing awareness of Kurdish-Americans in the U.S., especially those who live in Nashville. “Little Kurdistan” represents the close-knit community and culture among the Kurds, a presence that is confirmed by the many Kurdish-owned businesses in Nashville. A large number of Kurds have therefore moved to Nashville from within the U.S. to be with friends and family, or just to be a part of the growing society. This phenomenon is ongoing, and the peace of mind in knowing that there are other Kurds in Nashville is crucial for those Kurds who choose to move there. Nick Aref is one of many Kurds who have moved, in his case from Arizona, to open a business in Nashville. The key reasons that led many Kurds to Nashville in the 1970s were, as Drew Jubera points out, the fact that “Nashville was viewed as a manageable, relatively affordable place to live, full of entry-level jobs for people who didn’t speak much English.”
Lucky Nashville has the only known Kurdish Pride gang in the Nation!
Another unfortunate event for Nashville’s Kurds is the breakthrough of the Kurdish Pride Gang in the recent years. KPG is thought to be America’s only Kurdish street gang, and has been linked to a series of high-profile crimes. The number of members is not accurately estimated, but they are believed to be made up of 20 to 30 teens and young adults (Emery:2007). The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department are uncertain of the gang’s foundation, but believes the gang is supposed to function as a Kurdish show-off to other ethnic gangs such as the Hispanic gangs Sureños 13 (Sur-13) and Mara Salvatrucha 13. The Metropolitan also point out that the KPG members’ backgrounds are surprising to everyone, because “they come from two-parent homes, […] from middle-class families with a strong work ethic, where education is important” (Emery:2007). [Darn! There goes the theory right out the window again that crime is a product of poverty-ed.] Members of the Kurdish community [mostly Sunni Muslims] have expressed concern and some have said that they are ashamed of the reputation these few associates have given the rest of the thousands of Kurds in the country.
Yippee! They were involved in “civic engagement” by organizing for Obama!
In recent years, various Kurdish organizations have propped up in and outside of Nashville and have regularly organized events that have been aimed to bring the Kurdish-American community together. A primary goal of these organizations has been to promote the interests of Kurdish-Americans and cultivate support among both Kurdish and non-Kurdish-Americans. “Next Door Neighbors” also illustrates how Kurdish-Americans have opted to take part in the American democratic process. Kurdish organizations have played a role in introducing the democratic process to newly naturalized Kurdish-Americans by initiating programs that are aimed at stimulating their involvement. The Nashville chapter of Kurdish American Youth Organization (KAYO) was awarded by the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition for promoting civic engagement in 2008. Furthermore, Kurds in Nashville took part in organizing a movement entitled “Kurds for Obama”, which was aimed at gathering support for then-candidates Barack Obama and Joe Biden. As refugees of former dictator-controlled states where they had no permission to partake in anything, Kurds have displayed a desire to participate in the growth of their new country.
Multicultural Nashville has been the subject of many posts here at RRW, please use our search function for those stories. And, by the way, keep your eyes peeled in Nashville for some of those 270 illegal Somalis that we hear have headed to Nashville (among other cities where diversity is strength).
* We learned some time ago that Nashville Public Television was in cahoots with the Nashville Open Borders lobby made up of big business types looking for cheap labor. Too bad their quest for cheap labor now threatens the security of Nashville.
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