Race and Ethnicity Assimilation Essay

Pages: 5 (1521 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Race

Race and Ethnicity

ASSIMILATION, INVASION

Race and Ethnicity: Changes through the Century

Media Poll: Race Relations Improving

Results of the 2009 CBS/New York Times survey showed that the majority of Blacks and a high percentage of whites described race relations as good and efforts at eradicating racial discrimination as progressing (CBS, 2009). Both percentages were higher than those in the previous year. Blacks who saw race relations as bad decreased from 59% to 30% during this survey. Of the total Black population surveyed, 61% saw real progress in eliminating racial discrimination and 87% among whites since the 60s (CBS).

While both sides admitted to improved relations, most Blacks at 51% still felt that racial discrimination remained in that whites stood a better chance of getting ahead (CBS, 2009). In contrast, 44% from both sides viewed that they shared equal opportunity. Survey results generally presented encouraging trends mainly in the increased percentage among Blacks who saw the races as sharing equal opportunities at 12%. Curiously, most of the surveyed do not see President Obama as deserving credit for the improvement in race relations. Race relations have remained at the same level, according to 59% of the Blacks and 65% of the whites since he started office. Only one in three Blacks said his presidency should be credited (CBS).

The survey also revealed overall popularity of the President among both African-Americans and whites (CBS, 2009). African-Americans were almost unanimous in the endorsement while 6 out of 10 white were satisfied. Two-thirds expressed optimism about his continuation in office and three out of four felt he somewhat cared about their needs and problems. And 97% of Blacks and 81% of white approved of the First Lady's performance. Her approval rate was a high 84% and disapproval was almost nil (CBS).

Racism not so Dead

The conservative movement on civil rights argues that the evil it and Martin Luther King Jr. fought 50 years ago has been crushed (Chait, 2013). Half a century ago, the Blacks were blamed for their own misdeeds. It can be argued that it was wrong to blame them for their trouble. It was wrong then but not now and on two grounds. One is the economic legacy of racial slavery and formal racial discrimination. Another is continuing racial discrimination. Findings of studies show that despite the legal prohibition against racism, Americans still informally judge others by the color of their skin through stereotyped behavior. Black job applicants still fall behind equally qualified white applicants. Conservatives refuse to accept this finding, though. In the same line of thought, politics continues to tread along white's racial paranoia that President Obama may have begun an era of Black kids beating the white kids or that he may be engaged in some reparation work that favors his own skin color. The policy grounds supported by white racial conservatives may be much less ruthless than those they held half a century or so ago. But they and libertarians alike could have starkly missed today what the civil rights movement espoused 50 years ago. Hence, they announce with pride and jubilation that racism and racial discrimination have been eliminated -- but sweepingly and in error (Chait).

White vs. Non-White

Some analysts believe that the age-old white-black distinction is giving way to a more massive and amorphous white-nonwhite variety in the 20th century (Lee & Bean, 2010). Along with the Blacks, other color races were categorized as nonwhite and have shared severe discrimination. They too have been subjected to segregation, enslavement, exclusion, incarceration, confinement and deportation. These are the Latinos and Asians, particularly the Chinese and the Japanese. The new white-nonwhite divide gained acceptance and legitimacy in the 60s and became legally enforced. Civil Rights, Asians and Latinos wailed against the analogous perception of them with the Blacks. Civil rights administrators under then President Harry S. Truman heard their side and bequeathed affirmative action benefits to Asians and Latinos in employment, even self-employment. Latinos have been an especially recognized ethnic minority. European and Asian ethnic immigrants have been able to change their racial status from near-Black to almost-white by the fading away or diminishing of economic and cultural differences. Their marrying white at higher rates than Blacks likewise made it easier for their offspring to acquire non-Black identity and status. Many of these immigrant ethnic groups have been able to alter their non-white status to white or almost white (Lee & Bean).

In sharp contrast, Black immigrants and African-Americans have not been able to accomplish this (Lee & Bean, 2010). West Indian immigrants attempt to improve their status by dissociating from black Americans and refuse to be share the same identity with them because of the stigma of blackness. The boundaries of race have expanded in history except for the Blacks. But the one historic event that signaled the possibility of the sharp color line to blur was the election of President Obama in November 2008. His campaign proposed a vision of a post-racial America where racial status would continue to decline. He dreamed of a country, which would be strengthened rather than divided by the racial diversity. He symbolized the change that would bring this about. Immediately after his first election, media proclaimed the collapse of the color line and the inauguration of the promised post-racial society "where anything is possible (Michael Eric Dyson, 2008 as qtd in Lee & Bean). David Hollinger predicted that current racial categories could increasingly diminish until they became less relevant to each generation until they vanished altogether. But which of these presented scenarios will characterize the state of racial relations in the current century in America remains to be seen (Lee & Bean).

The Hispanization of America

Mexican immigration appears to be an act of retrieving what Americans forcefully took from Mexico in the 1830s and the 1840s (Huntington, 2005). It also blurred the once-distinct demarcation between the two countries. What evolved was a very much different culture from two different culture molds. Hispanization has thereafter been advancing socially, linguistically and economically towards a blend of Anglo-Hispanic society. No other immigrant group has asserted so much historical claim on America and assimilation into it as Mexicans and Mexican-Americans have or can. Assimilation is gauged by the criteria of language, education, occupation and income, citizenship, intermarriage and identity. The last criterion, identity, is the ultimate yardstick that measures the extent of Hispanic absorption in the America culture. The largest and most significant evidence of assimilation is conversion to evangelical Protestantism. Other available evidence reflects a weak identification with America. When Latin American children born in Mexico were surveyed and asked how they call themselves, none said they were American. Most of them called themselves either Hispanic or Mexican. Only a 3.9% minority identified themselves as American (Huntington).

Other studies report similar findings of Hispanics' refusal to identify with American values (Huntington, 2005). They will continue to repulse the need to learn English. Immigrants, especially Hispanics, will be seen less and less to be an economic burden, and their average education to rise to totally high levels. These eventualities will attract more immigrants and increase diversity all the more, leading to the disappearance of the distinction between a predominantly Spanish-speaking America and an English-speaking America. This disappearance can be a daunting and major potential threat to the proud and sturdy political integrity of America (Huntington).

Response to Huntington's Challenge to American Identity

Huntington derives the basis for this challenge from strong structural, cultural and political connections among Latinos (Citrin et al., 2007). He altogether fails to consider that American Blacks are themselves structurally un-assimilated despite their adoption of the into American English language and assimilation of its culture. Young and better-educated Hispanics, as compared with whites or Blacks, identify more with America. They are seen as more patriotic and aware of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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