The Los Angeles Times has published a long article about the difficulties Afghan refugees have being resettled in our country. The article reports on the many frustrations new immigrants feel when thrust into a new environment fraught with challenges and potentially intimidating for their families. It's a story consistent with the struggles faced by other groups of immigrants throughout our history, such as the Irish refugees who escaped the Potato Famine in the mid 1800s, Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, or the Vietnamese War refugees sent to US military bases in 1975. Immigration procedures are difficult. Language barriers are significant. Decent housing and good jobs are hard to come by. Culture clashes are inevitable.
L.A. Times' article focused on Afghan refugees in the Sacramento area. It's no secret that Sacramento County, and Arden Arcade in particular, is a key place for Afghan refugees. The Bee recently reported that census data show more Afghans live in Arden Arcade's zip codes - 95825 and 97821 - than any other zip code in America. Unfortunately, in telling about the refugees' plight, the L.A. Times portrayed Arden Arcade inaccurately and disrespectfully and was silent as to the work being done locally within Arden Arcade to help the refugee community.
"...Arden Arcade, a Sacramento neighborhood known for low rents in run-down apartments..."Anita Chabria and Sarah Parvini, "For many Afghan refugees, the struggles don’t end when they reach U.S. soil", L.A. Times, Aug. 21, 2021.
A former resident of the area wrote us saying she was saddened to see that Arden Arcade was so inappropriately characterized in an article on page 1 of the L.A. Times and urged us to contact our Supervisor about it. Well, that's what we're here for. As we have pointed out, there are some really bad apartments in Arden Arcade. And we have tried to bring attention to that situation in many articles about how Sacramento County has dropped the ball (use our search box for articles about apartments or poverty). But there are some bad apartments elsewhere, too. It's not right to paint our entire community with the same brush. There are many good houses and apartments here in Arden Arcade - some fancy and some plain - but good nonetheless. The article also failed to note that there are local entities in the public and private sector that are working to help the Afghan immigrants. For example, it was silent about the budding community gardens that serve the Afghan community at the former Creekside School site and on Edison near Bell. The article spoke of a food truck that caters to Afghani palates but it did not mention that the Fulton-El Camino Recreation and Park District encouraged the food truck to get its permits and target Howe Park. Nor did it reveal that the park district has asked the state for significant park bond funds, based on direct input from the refugee community, to re-make Bohemian Park and build a community center on Edison. The article said nothing about how the San Juan Unified School District works to provide the refugees with services like classroom interpereters, counseling, and food distribution. And, please, Arden Arcade is not a "neighborhood", it is a fully-built-out community of around 100,000 people, with a wide variety of neighborhoods and businesses that are fundamental parts of the regional economy. Except for Sacramento County's historic grip on the reigns of power, Arden Arcade would be a city in the top-third tier of all cities in the state. To mischaracterize our community and to overlook the roles of our local entities is just lazy jounalism again, but this time it's from the widely-read L.A. Times.
Look, we know that there are many problems that beset Arden Arcade. Pushing to get those problems fixed is why we publish this blog. It doesn't help for a significant publication like the L.A. Times, when writing an important article about the stresses faced by recent immigrants from Afghanistan, to portray our entire community as miserable and forlorn. Arden Arcade has a deep history of welcoming immigrants to our community, long reflected in our languages, faces and place names. We feel for our new Afghan immigrants, as they are just as much a part of our community as anyone else. We welcome their addition to the wide-ranging diversity here. We want our Afghan refugees to succeed, just as we want the entire community to succeed. We hope that someday the media will tell complete stories about our community and its people rather than just superficial and incorrect ones.