Digging into the diversity of Antioch

Nashville 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – From the bustling businesses to traffic and growing neighborhoods, the 37013 has become Davidson County’s home to almost every culture, race, and ethnicity. 

“There wasn’t a lot of diversity in Antioch in the past,” said Karen Johnson, former councilwoman for District 29. “Now it’s bustling with a lot of blended diversity.” 

Native Argentinean Fabian Bedne is among the Metro Nashville council members for Antioch. 

“We have people here who came from Sudan, from Somalia, from Laos, from Burma,” said Bedne.  

Bedne’s home sits in the highly-diverse Sugar Valley subdivision.

“There are people from all over that came here to Nashville and they have been successful in actually building businesses that have employed locals,” said Bedne.

Among them, Hyemi Thompson who moved to the United States from South Korea 11 years ago. 

“I love it,” she said. 

In 2015, Thompson opened a salon along Antioch Pike, part of almost a mini Koreatown with a grocery store and restaurant next door. 

“Convenient, close to everywhere, my customers are from everywhere,” said Thompson. 

According to the latest U.S. Census, of Antioch’s main districts, District 32 is home to the largest number of African Americans in the county at almost 49-percent. 

The highest Hispanic or Latino population is in District 30, making up almost a third of the residents there. 

District 27 has the highest Asian population at almost 10-percent. For many immigrants, the draw of Antioch begins with refugee programs.  

Next, to build a life – affordability. 

Johnson said that quality of life was a focus when she served Antioch’s district 29 from 2011 to 2018. 

“I think that can be misinterpreted sometimes, that a diverse community is not one that has a high quality of life and I think Antioch is proof that it can be,” said Johnson.  

With that diversity comes development, but Johnson said it’s not all good. 

“We had to fight off having too much of a concentration of low-income housing pocketed throughout the area,” said Johnson. “That in and of itself impacts the diversity. You don’t want pockets of poverty.” 

“There are some youth who are up to no good, so we’re trying to work with the police to deal with that,” said Bedne. “But in general, it is a place that people enjoy because it’s safe because it’s welcoming.” 

It’s a feeling Thompson knows well – She said a complete stranger once came to her rescue on Interstate 24. 

“Was less than five minutes and a guy changed my flight tire for me,” said Thompson. “People are so nice.” 

The draw of Antioch has spilled into neighboring communities, like the International District along Nolensville Pike.  

Mexico City native-turned-Antioch resident Bere Wences has formed a regular zumba regular group in front of her smoothie shop in Plaza Mariachi. 

“I would like to open a store bigger than this, but because I like this place too much,” said Wences. “I like the people, the culture.” 

The Latino cultural center opened in 2017 and has since hosted events to celebrate almost every ethnicity. 

“The more we look out into the changing community, the changing demographic, we have to be aware of what’s going on, be inclusive,” said Diane Janbakhsh, owner of Plaza Mariachi. 

It’s an evolving Antioch that residents like Thompson said they want to be part of for years to come. 

“I think I’m going to stay here for a long time,” she said.  

As the area continues to grow, Bedne said there needs to be more efforts to preserve the diversity of Antioch. 

Bedne said part of that comes from providing more opportunities for minorities. 

The other, through more incentives for recorded histories. 

Currently, that’s mainly through art at community centers, like Casa Azafran in South Nashville. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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