The United States of America is a country with many immigrants. These immigrants range from the early settlers to the current day’s immigrants, a situation that presents ethnic and cultural diversity in the region. In addition, the immigrants have distinct physical features, norms, languages and customs. This has presented a challenge as they try to adapt to the dominating society which at times discourages acceptance thus limiting their entrance into the large groups economic, social and political structure. With an influx of immigrants to the America, the community is heterogeneous. However, the immigrants’ culture and other differences were not totally accepted in the political, economic, and social areas of the society. On the other hand, some of the immigrants struggle to retain their cultural identity as opposed to assimilation. With the expectation that a new culture is born when two ethnic groups come together and interact, some of the immigrants have maintained their ethnic identities against the odds.
The immigrants who do not assimilate do so due to a number of factors. For example, when they face racism and lack of opportunities outside their designated ethnic groups, this keeps them segregated and therefore they are not exposed to the cultures of other people. As this happens, they get acceptance from their community members who accommodate them. With continued to relations with the members from their community, they propagate their faith and cultural beliefs while condemning those of their opponents.
Moreover, most immigrants have retained their culture as a form of interaction in the home as modern culture is practiced outside the family. This avoids a situation whereby the family is a battle field between their culture and modernity. For example, where the Indians culture conflicts with the American culture, the American culture becomes a tool of interaction outside the home as the Indian-American cultural and religious practices are maintained within the family. This is evident where the women practice home making duties such as cooking, cleaning and child-rearing as they work on part time or full-time economic jobs.
Bakalian (1992) cited that the Armenian Americans are distinguished by their unique historical and cultural identities which have made them resilient to assimilation. Taking pride in their history, language, and alphabet, a resistance endured over years and church that has shaped both the sacred and seculars ways of their people. This serves as a common factor that strengthens the bond between their people. She further cited that though Armenians of the higher class may be structurally assimilated but that does not alter their levels of Armenian identity.
Competition and interethnic tension have at times been experienced especially in cases of inequality. The root cause of the tension is ignored and not addressed as blame is put on one another. As multiculturalism seeks to ease the tensions, it is important that values that uphold and acknowledge diversity are taught. Ogbaa (2003) argued that in a society all black people are classified as one people. To break away from this, the Nigerian Americans have been dealing with the question of identity in the internet publications, lifestyle, and even at the state, national and ethnic organizations level so as to separate themselves from the other blacks in the United States. They do this to ensure that they do not lose their individual ethnic heritage and identity.
Years after their migration to the United States some ethnic groups have maintained their cultural and ethnic identities because they perceive it as a source of prestige and the environment they found in the ground did not accept them so after being welcomed by their own people, they retain their roots.
Bakalian, A. P. (1992). Armenian-Americans: from being to feeling Armenian. New Brunswick U.S.A.: Transaction Publishers.
Ogbaa, K. (2003). The Nigerian Americans. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.