The Multicultural Myth - May Utne Assignment : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

The Multicultural Myth

By: Brad Edmondson

Utne Reader - January/February 1999

Shelby Dowty

Immigrants have not landed on Ellis Island for over 50 years. Today, Ellis Island is a museum operated by the National Park Service. However, immigrants still come to the United States every day either by boat, jumbo jets, and still others may drive across the United States border from Canada or Mexico. According to this article, immigrants today tend to settle near their ports of entry or where it is easier to find a wide variety of jobs. Immigrants in the past came to the United States for many reasons. Their main concerns were to find a life of prosperity as well as freedom in America. The author of this article, Edmondson states that, Though is may appear that Americans races are melting together, demographic data show big lumps floating in the national melting pot. Indeed, this new wave of immigration is creating two Americas: one that is young, urban, and multicultural, and another that is middle-aged to elderly, suburban, to rural, and almost all white. This is easier understood in the terms that younger Americans are drawing themselves closer to immigrants while older Americans tend to keep their distance.

The earlier generations of United States immigrants were expected to leave behind their old languages and customs. These immigrants were assimilated into the mainstream of American life. The children would attend English classrooms right off the boat without even knowing a word of the English language. Today, many immigrants will keep their cultural ties with their old homes. A good description of the United States today is tossed salad. The singer, Gloria Estefan states, When immigrants come to America, they bring their culture, and that culture becomes part of a new country. It makes everyone stronger.

In the United States today, immigrants will many times move to areas where the white population is leaving that area. This article also relates the message that in the future, race may have less to with living in certain neighborhoods. What will make the difference of where immigrants live will be their class and age.

I read this article because of the diversity issue. According to the author, there will still be discrimination but it wont necessarily include race--it will include either class or age. I personally have a hard time accepting any kind discrimination of anyone. It has been estimated that nearly half of all Americans today are the descendants of the twelve to sixteen million immigrants who came to this country around the turn of the century. Are people forgetting where they came from? One thing that bothers me about this article is the results from a survey taken from the University of Californias college freshmen. The results were that sixty-three percent of these freshmen socialized with racial or ethnic groups. The word socialize does not mean the acceptance of other racial or ethnic groups. That is hard for me to accept. Any person can socialize without being accepting. In my opinion, this survey doesnt really prove anything.

I think it is important as educators to make sure students are accepting of similarities and differences of all cultures. After all, that is what makes a great tossed salad, a little of this and a little of that. Immigrants from all over the world have become quite successful in the United States, but they have also enriched the nation culturally, intellectually, and economically.

-- Anonymous, May 09, 1999

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