New American Essay

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In The New Americans by Ruben Martinez, the author provides insight of the life experience of several families as they emigrate from their homeland and migrate to America in hope to finding a better life. The following text will briefly examine each family and their experience, but critically analyze the experience through defining and relating sociological concepts and theories. By the end the writer will explain how in reading this book has helped in understanding cultural pluralism in American Society. The first chapter involves a family emigrating from Palestine to Chicago. The chapter explains the difficulty the family experiences before and after emigrating. Leading up to their departure, Naima Saddeh, and fiancé of Hatem Abudayyeh plan to marry in Chicago, spend much of their time with her family reflecting her life in El Jib, Palestine and what the future of Chicago holds. Finally once the couple and her mother arrive in Chicago and begin a new life, but while experiencing their new life, they experience the American culture. This family helped me understand what it means to be American living in a culturally pluralistic society because of culture shock and marginality faced by the arrival of this family. Cultural pluralism is defined as a series of distinct but coexisting groups each preserving their tradition and culture but each loyal to a broader national unity. This was made apparent several times. One example was when Hatem went to kiss Naima goodbye, but she refused due to tradition of Ramada. This shows that Naima and any myself are part of America but preserve our own traditions. Naima’s culture is her Palestinian products, belief systems, values, morals, skills, literature and language. These were different from those of U.S. especially language and tradition. These two concepts notably created culture shock, the experiencing of disorientation and confusion one feels when confronted with a different culture. A prime example was shown when Naima searched for employment and was over looked due to a language barrier. Another was learning how to drive a car in America. Naima may experience ethnocentrism, which is the attitude that one group is superior to an inferior group (Naima). This may be due to culture shock and not being able to do anything, she may feel inferior. Naima stated “In Palestine, I could do everything. Suddenly find myself; I can’t do even a little bit.” By far, the concept of marginality is what Naima is experiencing. Defined as living with two separate cultures, you feel attach to one, but living in another. Naima still holds on to her old culture, while living the new culture in America. This is shown as she experiences the cold weather, driving, and having to learn a new language. Yet she practices old culture religion, and traditions such as practicing faith in Ramada. One model of society that applies to this family is the Melting Pot theory. It is the idea formed by immigrant cultures, religions, and ethnic groups will produce new social and cultural forms. The author states Naima and her husband “experience” the melting pot. They have come to America to live the dream life as so many immigrants do. In that they bring their culture to America and share culture and ideas just as any other immigrant culture has done. In the end, everyone blends together. In this chapter Naima and her husband were part of a minority group. Minority group is defined as a group of individuals whose physical appearance and cultural practice are unlike those of the dominant group. This family applies to minority group theory because they did not volunteer for minority status, have physical characteristics that distinct them from the dominant group. They are one of many Palestinian Americans, are aware of their social status and experience unequal treatment from the dominant group, such as employment. In chapter 2 of The New Americans two Nigerian families migrate to Chicago. They are a highly educated...
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