EXERCISE: SEPARATION OR ASSIMILATION?
Many Americans feel strongly about the traditions
and values found in their specific cultural heritage (e.g., African Americans,
Korean Americans, and Mexican Americans). They may experience a conflict
between how much they want to separate themselves from the mainstream
of U.S. society to maintain their cultural identity and how much they want
to assimilate themselves into U.S. society. Read the three accounts
below of young Mexican Americans who represent three views on this conflict.
As you read, identify who among these three teenagers wants to separate,
who wants to assimilate, and who wants to find a middle road.
Complete the following sentences:
PAUL: "I don’t want to be known as a Mexican
American, but only as an American. I was born in this country and raised
among Americans. I think like an Anglo, I talk like one, and I dress like
one. It’s true that I don’t look like an Anglo and sometimes I am rejected
by them, but it would be worse if I spoke Spanish or said that I was of
Mexican descent…I wish those people who are always making noise about being
Mexican Americans would be quiet. We would be better off if they would
accept things as they are…"
ROBERTO: "I am proud
of being a Mexican American. We have a rich heritage. Mexico is a great
country that is progressing fast. It has a wonderful history and culture…
I don't want to be like the 'Paddys' [Anglos] …They don't like anyone who
is different…Most people, even some Mexican Americans, look down on us
because we are Mexicans…It is unhealthy and unnatural to want to be something
you are not."
ROSA: "I am happy to be an American of Mexican
descent. Because I am Mexican, I learned to be close to my family, and
they have been a source of strength and support for me…My Spanish also
helped me a lot in my education and will open a lot of doors for me when
I look for a job. As an American I am happy to live in a great progressive
country where we have the freedom to achieve anything we want…I feel very
rich and fortunate because I have two cultures rather than just one."
PAUL/ROBERTO/ROSA (circle one) wants to assimilate
in American society.
PAUL/ROBERTO/ROSA (circle one) want to separate
from American society.
PAUL/ROBERTO/ROSA (circle one) wants neither to assimilate
nor separate from American society but rather to take a middle road
Source: Hallie Ann Wannamaker, Multicultural
Activities for the American History Classroom, West Nyack, NY: The
Center for Applied Research in Education, 1996, p.9.
Read Eric Kao's statement about being Chinese
American and Raimonda Mikatavage's article on "Fitting
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