Assimilation Vs. Multiculturalism – Research Paper – benbarnard3
Assimilation Vs. Multiculturalism
Ben BarnardMr. TischlerEnglish 100125 April 2015Assimilation vs. Multiculturalism The american dream is something billions of people have chased around the globe as they immigrated to the United States of America. All the immigrants had a common idea, but they had many different ways of getting to America. Once they had arrived they all faced the same decision, assimilate to American culture or retain their homeland traditions and become multicultural. This decision was not easy for immigrants, they had already abandoned their home land and they had to decide if they wanted to lose their culture as well. The best choice for all people in America is to be somewhere in the middle of assimilation and multiculturalism similar to how the Italian-American immigrants joined into the society. Trying to restart a life in a brand new country is difficult in it’s own right, but when the country an immigrant moves to wants them to instantly become like everybody else in the country life gets much more arduous. When immigrants try to join american society they are pushed to assimilate, which means “the process of adapting or adjusting to the culture of a group or nation, or the state of being so adapted” (“Assimilation”) . American society does not embrace multiculturalism, which means “the preservation of different cultures or cultural identities within a unified society, as a state or nation.” according to dictionary.com. Being an immigrant in America is not the dream the many people portray it to be. Most immigrants and immigrant groups as a whole are discriminated against once they are in America they try to conform to the American society and do as the other “Americans” do.This is shown in an example Richard Rodriguez gives, “When a Chinese family tried to move in a few blocks away from out house, I heard a friend’s father boast that the neighbors had banded together to keep out the Japs.” (R.Rodriguez 482) This instance shows how poorly Americans treated and thought of foreign immigrants in the country that they now called home. This made immigrants try to assimilate to American culture faster which created another problem for the immigrants. The immigrants would then contact family or friends from their home country and are viewed as completely different people by the people that have known them the longest. This puts immigrants in a tug-of-war between their core culture and their new adopted culture. There is seemingly no way for the immigrants to make everyone happy. the way for a person to satisfy their homeland and their new country is to keep their multicultural background and assimilate to the new society they are in. Having a background unique to a person’s origins before they came to America is important in our society and helps create the feeling of a melting pot. According to Arthur Schlesinger Jr., “Many Americans today righteously reject the historical of a new race of man. the contemporary ideal is not assimilation but ethnicity.The escape from origin has given way to search for “roots”. (Schlesinger Jr. 465) Under this theory being different and embracing your roots is a good thing and helps improve the society, but this does not mean that because someone is different they are disliked and treated poorly by others that are not similar to them. Richard Rodriguez has another view on the melting pot. He says,the best metaphor of America remains the dreadful metaphor-the Melting Pot. Fall into the Melting Pot, ease into the Melting Pot, or jump into the Melting Pot-it makes no difference— you will find yourself a stranger to your parents, a stranger to your own memory of yourself.” (R.Rodriguez 483) My definition of the melting pot is, a theory that encourages assimilation without forcing people to lose their cultural ties to the country that they immigrated to america from, but that does not make it perfect for everyone. Billions of different kinds of people have immigrated to America from many countries. One of the larger groups of immigrants is the Italian American immigrants. According to the Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, Italians began immigrating to the United states in the 1880’s. From 1876 to 1924 4.5 million Italians immigrated to America, and from just 1901 to 1910 two million Italians immigrated to the United States. Of all these Italian immigrants seventy-five percent were immigrants from Southern Italy because it was a poorer farming class area of the country. Once Italians settled in the United States they began to form Little Italies. These formed in heavily concentrated areas of fellow villagers and kin. They formed these communities in the few areas they settled in like, the Northeast, Louisiana, and California. Italians moved towards the Little Italies because of American hostility towards the Italian immigrants. Italians were discriminated against because the were blue collar working class people who did not care to assimilate into American culture. Italians were also overwhelmingly Roman-Catholic and during the time that they came to the United States there began religious reforms which made Americans dislike Italians more because they thought they were trying to change the views of Americans. According to Mercadante “Italians were viewed as ignorant and below other levels of religion in America” (Mercadante 553) Itlaians began to find their right fit in society with out losing their ties , but it took them awhile to get to that point. Italians did not begin to gradually assimilate into American culture until 1910’s and it was not until the 1920’s-1930’s that Italians began to become Americanized but they still retained their cultural traditions and did not lose their homeland customs. In the late 1930’s the second generation of Italian-Americans began to join others in Labor unions, began political gains in the Democratic Party New Deal Coalition. They also made a jump into national pop culture including, music, sports, and cinema. There are many very famous Italian-Americans such as, Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio, Vince Lombardi, Sylvester Stallone, and Frank Capra. World War 2 was the beginning of the broad acceptance of Italians and it was because of the Italians full support of the United States. The Cold war made Italians a mainstream culture because of their support of Anti-communism. After the Cold war Italian-Americans began to move up the social ladder and gained white collar positions as mangers and seemingly took them over from all other immigrant groups. Italian-Americans began to get a negative connotation in the 1930’s-1950’s because of the Italian Mafia beginning. They were the gangsters of that time period, smuggling alcohol and drugs, taking over entire cities with their brute force and power made them feared and not well liked or easily trusted. To this day Italian-Americans are similar to the Italian immigrants in the early 1900’s. There still remain areas of the United States that have large dense populations of Italian-Americans still associated with family and families that are rooted from similar areas of Italy.
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(2017, 05). Assimilation Vs. Multiculturalism. EssaysForStudent.com. Retrieved 05, 2017, from