Ethnicity and the Immigrant Experience
When thinking about immigration, most individuals imagine all different types of ethnic groups traveling to a separate land away from their own. Most imagine America. Immigration, throughout history, has occurred within all types of ethnicities. When taking a closer look at the individuals living in America, it is apparent that everyone is not exactly like one another. Assimilation becomes a popular word used when discussing migration, and both positives and negatives come along with it. Two theorists that discuss the meaning of assimilation in their writings are Stephen Steinberg in his book, Ethnic Myth, and Milton Gordon in his book Assimilation in American Life. They discuss issues regarding assimilation and how they affect the nation as a whole. A novel written by Chang-Rae Lee titled, Native Speaker, gives specific examples as to how the assimilation process affects others and the migrants themselves, as also described in both Steinberg and Gordon’s books.
In Steinberg’s book, Ethnic Myth, he discusses with his readers the issues regarding ethnic identity and assimilation. This is presented and explained in the chapter titled, The Atrophy of Ethnic Cultures. He first talks about the idea of the “melting pot” and how it should not be analyzed lightly. He gives a quote from John Higham that says, “Loud assertions of pluralism almost invariably betray fears of assimilation” (Steinberg, 59). This means that minority groups that try to maintain their cultural traditions may, in fact, risk assimilation by doing so. Another point he brings to the surface is that when looking back at second or third generations of a specific minority group, these people still can relate back to their original traditions and culture identity. He then says, “But can the same be said of the new generation which has known only the Americanized version of the original culture?” (Steinberg, 60). This is an obvious prevailing issue when it...
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