Race and Ethnicity William Matter Race and Ethnicity Final Exam Essay #1 Ethnicity: Relation of Assimilation The question of how people of different races and ethnicities interact in America has gripped this nation from its infancy. American society has long been a "cultural melting pot,' integrating people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Although the nation's history has been checkered on the process of successfully integrating people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds, Americans can feel proud of the many positive actions that have been taken to bring fairness and equality to all people. There are many issues concerning the immigration into America by people of other races and cultures, and a hundred more opinions to go with them. At the time of the largest immigration boom into this country, between 1880 and 1920, many people thought of immigration as a negative thing. It was largely considered that so many new cultures and people would distort the American ideals, and be a burden on those already occupying the space.
This point of view is still prominent today, though with less racial and cultural prejudice apparent. Some view the immigration of new peoples as a constructive element, creating a healthy and diverse environment in which to live. Both opinions have credit, and both have faults. For the most part, the integration of new cultures into the original American one should not violate any ideals held by the true Americans. The first settlers of this country traveled here to be free from the prejudices of their old lives. They came here to start anew.
When immigration brings different cultures, it is hard to understand why we would persecute them for attempting the same old thing. On the other hand, the crowding of people into this country can cause several problems. One of the most obvious, over population can be seen in very apparent ways in several places. This can be a very dangerous thing to promote, and a hard element to guard against with the new freedom found in the differences between cultures, causing many problems with racism and other forms of prejudice, which can hardly be expected to be eliminated. When talking about assimilating the term refers to "the dominant group absorbing the minority.' This has happened, more than most other cases, with Asian Americans.
The issues of whether or not a minority group is able to assimilate are argued greatly about amongst conflict theorists and order theorists. While conflict theorists maintain that assimilation will never be totally existent for American minorities, order theorists disagree. Many use Asian Americans to display what they believe to be a group of people who were able to overcome racism and become a thriving, good part of this country. Due to their success, Asian Americans have been labeled the "model minority,' in other words, what all other minority groups should aspire to be.
These "examples' for the rest of the country are seen as hard working, self-reliant, and having strong family values and high educational achievement. Many Asian Americans, one would think, would feel complimented by this praise given to them by the majority group, but many Asian Americans have declared that this notion is detrimental to the Asian American's relationships with other minorities. The person who came up with the idea that Asian Americans are the "model minority' probably thought that they were doing their part in tearing down color lines. Many sociologists think that the abilities and achievements of the Asian American community should be expressed as testimonies to the rest of the minority groups but what probably was not looked at as act of racism has turned into just that.
First, many Asian American leaders have deemed this concept as no longer being just a theory but rather, a myth. They say that these stereotypes paint an untrue picture of Asian Americans in this country and forget to tell the country about the many Asian Americans that have hardly assimilated at all. They do not recognize the many families on welfare, those who are gang affiliated, the drug users and those that live in run-down, crowded tenements who suffer from tuberculosis and depression. It forgets the many who are forced to work in sweatshops and live below poverty level.
Secondly, the model minority myth is a dangerous concept because Asian Americans are alienated from the majority race as well as the minority race pool. They are still perceived by white America as outsiders yet are set up for resentment by other minorities. This makes life hard for the Asian American that achieves because he is almost forced to turn against his other brother and sisters of colors making them almost a fair weather liberal against their own ethnic background. This is detrimental to the well being of the Asian American in this country.
This concept should not be used to describe the modern Asian American and should be recognized as a stereotype like any other in our society. There has been a problem with ethnic cleansing in our world throughout history. The one that stands out the most and is most recognizable would have to be the Holocaust. During this struggle the Jewish were turned upon due to blame. They were used as the scapegoat for Germany's falling economy, and unemployment rates.
As in most ethnic cleansing acts there is dominant groups that is having problems and looks for a way out. The active involvement of other nations to impede on these acts is depressing due to technicalities. I do believe that in the near future, the active involvement of other nations to stop these heinous crimes will rise to a level that leave little room for them any more. Ethnicity is one's culture and should be admired by all when one wants to remain active in following their norms. A diverse country with a multiculturalistic society is the most interesting and the best one to have.
Will we ever see that is a question that will probably for ever remain "no'.