Guide Understanding Mexicans and Americans: Cultural Perspectives in Conflict

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White Americans long regarded some elements of African-American culture quintessentially "American", while at the same time treating African Americans as second-class citizens. White appropriation, stereotyping and mimicking of black culture played an important role in the construction of an urban popular culture in which European immigrants could express themselves as Americans, through such traditions as blackface , minstrel shows and later in jazz and in early Hollywood cinema, notably in The Jazz Singer Analyzing the "racial masquerade" that was involved in creation of a white "melting pot" culture through the stereotyping and imitation of black and other non-white cultures in the early 20th century, historian Michael Rogin has commented: "Repudiating s nativism, these films [Rogin discusses The Jazz Singer , Old San Francisco , Whoopee!

Unlike other racially stigmatized groups, white immigrants can put on and take off their mask of difference.

But the freedom promised immigrants to make themselves over points to the vacancy, the violence, the deception, and the melancholy at the core of American self-fashioning". Since World War II, the idea of the melting pot has become more racially inclusive in the United States, gradually extending also to acceptance of marriage between whites and non-whites. This trend towards greater acceptance of ethnic and racial minorities was evident in popular culture in the combat films of World War II, starting with Bataan This film celebrated solidarity and cooperation between Americans of all races and ethnicities through the depiction of a multiracial American unit.

At the time blacks and Japanese in the armed forces were still segregated, while Chinese and Indians were in integrated units. Historian Richard Slotkin sees Bataan and the combat genre that sprang from it as the source of the "melting pot platoon", a cinematic and cultural convention symbolizing in the s "an American community that did not yet exist", and thus presenting an implicit protest against racial segregation. However, Slotkin points out that ethnic and racial harmony within this platoon is predicated upon racist hatred for the Japanese enemy: "the emotion which enables the platoon to transcend racial prejudice is itself a virulent expression of racial hatred The final heat which blends the ingredients of the melting pot is rage against an enemy which is fully dehumanized as a race of 'dirty monkeys.

In Hawaii, as Rohrer argues, there are two dominant discourses of racial politics, both focused on " haole " white people or whiteness in Hawaii in the islands. The first is the discourse of racial harmony representing Hawaii as an idyllic racial paradise with no conflict or inequality. There is also a competing discourse of discrimination against nonlocals, which contends that "haoles" and nonlocal people of color are disrespected and treated unfairly in Hawaii. As negative referents for each other, these discourses work to reinforce one another and are historically linked.

Throughout the history of the modern Olympic Games, the theme of the United States as a melting pot has been employed to explain American athletic success, becoming an important aspect of national self-image. The diversity of American athletes in the Olympic Games in the early 20th century was an important avenue for the country to redefine a national culture amid a massive influx of immigrants, as well as American Indians represented by Jim Thorpe in and blacks represented by Jesse Owens in The international aspect of the games allowed the United States to define its pluralistic self-image against the monolithic traditions of other nations.

American athletes served as cultural ambassadors of American exceptionalism , promoting the melting pot ideology and the image of America as a progressive nation based on middle-class culture.

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Journalists and other American analysts of the Olympics framed their comments with patriotic nationalism, stressing that the success of U. Following the September 11, terrorist attacks, the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City strongly revived the melting pot image, returning to a bedrock form of American nationalism and patriotism. The reemergence of Olympic melting pot discourse was driven especially by the unprecedented success of African Americans , Mexican Americans , Asian Americans , and Native Americans in events traditionally associated with Europeans and white North Americans such as speed skating and the bobsled.

Olympic team.

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The concept of multiculturalism was preceded by the concept of cultural pluralism , which was first developed in the s and s, and became widely popular during the s. The concept of cultural pluralism first emerged in the s and s among intellectual circles out of the debates in the United States over how to approach issues of immigration and national identity. During and immediately after the First World War, the concept of the melting pot was equated by Nativists with complete cultural assimilation towards an Anglo-American norm "Anglo-conformity" on the part of immigrants, and immigrants who opposed such assimilation were accused of disloyalty to the United States.

The newly popularized concept of the melting pot was frequently equated with "Americanization", meaning cultural assimilation, by many "old stock" Americans. In Henry Ford 's Ford English School established in , the graduation ceremony for immigrant employees involved symbolically stepping off an immigrant ship and passing through the melting pot , entering at one end in costumes designating their nationality and emerging at the other end in identical suits and waving American flags. Opposition to the absorption of millions of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe was especially strong among popular writers such as Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard , who believed in the "racial" superiority of Americans of Northern European descent as member of the " Nordic race ", and therefore demanded immigration restrictions to stop a "degeneration" of America's white racial "stock".

They believed that complete cultural assimilation of the immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe was not a solution to the problem of immigration because intermarriage with these immigrants would endanger the racial purity of Anglo-America. The controversy over immigration faded away after immigration restrictions were put in place with the enactment of the Johnson-Reed Act in In response to the pressure exerted on immigrants to culturally assimilate and also as a reaction against the denigration of the culture of non-Anglo white immigrants by Nativists, intellectuals on the left, such as Horace Kallen in Democracy Versus the Melting-Pot , and Randolph Bourne in Trans-National America , laid the foundations for the concept of cultural pluralism.

This term was coined by Kallen.

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The concept of cultural pluralism was popularized in the s by John Dewey. In the United States, where the term melting pot is still commonly used, the ideas of cultural pluralism and multiculturalism have, in some circles, taken precedence over the idea of assimilation. Nonetheless, the term assimilation is still used to describe the ways in which immigrants and their descendants adapt, such as by increasingly using the national language of the host society as their first language.

Since the s, much research in Sociology and History has disregarded the melting pot theory for describing interethnic relations in the United States and other counties. In the s, political correctness in the United States emphasized that each ethnic and national group has the right to maintain and preserve its cultural distinction and integrity, and that one does not need to assimilate or abandon one's heritage in order to blend in or merge into the majority Anglo-American society. Nevertheless, some prominent scholars, such as Samuel P. Huntington in Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity , have expressed the view that the most accurate explanation for modern-day United States culture and inter-ethnic relations can be found somewhere in a fusion of some of the concepts and ideas contained in the melting pot, assimilation, and Anglo-conformity models.

Under this theory, it is asserted that the United States has one of the most homogeneous cultures of any nation in the world. This line of thought holds that this American national culture derived most of its traits and characteristics from early colonial settlers from Britain, Ireland, and Germany. When more recent immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe brought their various cultures to America at the beginning of the 20th century, they changed the American cultural landscape just very slightly and, for the most part, assimilated into America's pre-existing culture, which had its origins in Northwestern Europe.

The decision of whether to support a melting-pot or multicultural approach has developed into an issue of much debate within some countries.

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For example, the French and British governments and populace are currently debating whether Islamic cultural practices and dress conflict with their attempts to form culturally unified countries. In more ancient times, some marriages between distinctly different tribes and nations were due to royalty trying to form alliances with or to influence other kingdoms or to dissuade marauders or slave traders.

Two examples, Hermodike I c.

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  4. These unions resulted in the transfer of ground-breaking technological skills into Ancient Greece, respectively, the phonetic written script and the use of coinage to use a token currency, where the value is guaranteed by the state. Mexico, beginning with the conquest of the Aztecs , had entered a new global empire based on trade and immigration. In the 16th and 17th centuries, waves of Spanish, and to a lesser extent, African and Filipino culture became embedded into the fabric of Mexican culture.

    It is important to note, however, that from a Mexican standpoint, the immigrants and their culture were no longer considered foreign, but Mexican in their entirety. The food, art, and even heritage were assimilated into a Mexican identity. Upon the independence of Mexico , Mexico began receiving immigrants from Central Europe, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, again, bringing many cultural influences but being quickly labeled as Mexican, unlike in the United States, where other culture is considered foreign. This assimilation is very evident, even in Mexican society today: for example, banda , a style of music originating in northern Mexico, is simply a Mexican take on Central European music brought by immigrants in the 18th century.

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    Mexico's thriving beer industry was also the result of German brewers finding refuge in Mexico. The coastal states of Guerrero and Veracruz are inhabited by citizens of African descent. Mexico's national policy is based on the concept of mestizaje , a word meaning "to mix". The immigrants are socially under pressure to adopt a Mexican nationality and become part of the broader culture speaking Spanish, respect the Catholic heritage, help the society , while contributing useful cultural traits foreign to Mexican society. Most Argentines are descended from colonial-era settlers and of the 19th- and 20th-century immigrants from Europe.

    Most of the 6 million European immigrants arriving between and , regardless of origin, settled in several regions of the country. Due to this large-scale European immigration, Argentina's population more than doubled, although half ended up returning to Europe or settling in the United States. The majority of these European immigrants came from Spain and Italy mostly, but to a lesser extent, Germany, France, and Russia. Italian population in Argentina arrived mainly from the northern Italian regions varying between Piedmont , Veneto and Lombardy , later from Campania and Calabria ; [40] Many Argentines have the gentilic of an Italian city, place, street or occupation of the immigrant as last name, many of them were not necessarily born Italians, but once they did the roles of immigration from Italy the name usually changed.

    Spanish immigrants were mainly Galicians and Basques. Brazil has long been a melting pot for a wide range of cultures. From colonial times Portuguese Brazilians have favoured assimilation and tolerance for other peoples, and intermarriage was more acceptable in Brazil than in most other European colonies. However, Brazilian society has never been completely free of ethnic strife and exploitation, and some groups have chosen to remain separate from mainstream social life.

    Portuguese are the main European ethnic group in Brazil, and most Brazilians can trace their ancestry to an ethnic Portuguese or a mixed-race Portuguese. Among European descendants, Brazil has the largest Italian diaspora , the second largest German diaspora , as well as other European groups. The country is also home to the largest Japanese diaspora outside Japan, the largest Arab community outside the Arab World and one of the top 10 Jewish populations. Colombia is a melting pot of races and ethnicities.

    The population is descended from three racial groups—Native Americans, blacks, and whites—that have mingled throughout the nearly years of the country's history. Costa Rican people is a very syncretic melting pot, because this country has been constituted in percentage since the 16th century by immigrants from all the European countries—mostly Spaniards and Italians with a lot of Germans , British , Swedes , Swiss , French and Croats —also as black people from Africa and Jamaica, Americans , Chinese , Lebanese and Latin Americans who have mestized over time with the large native populations criollos, castizos, mulattos, blacks and tri-racial creating the national average modern ethnic composition.

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    The Indian subcontinent has a long history of inter-ethnic marriage dating back to ancient India. Various groups of people have been intermarrying for millennia in the Indian subcontinent, including speakers of Dravidian , Indo-Aryan , Austroasiatic , and Tibeto-Burman languages.

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    On account of such diverse influences, the Indian subcontinent in a nut-shell appears to be a cradle of human civilization. Despite invasions in its recent history it has succeeded in organically assimilating incoming influences, blunting their wills for imperialistic hegemony and maintaining its strong roots and culture.

    These invasions, however, brought their own racial mixing between diverse populations and the Indian subcontinent is considered an exemplary "melting pot" and not a "salad bowl" by many geneticists for exactly this reason. However, society in the Indian subcontinent has never been completely free of ethnic strife and exploitation, and some groups have chosen to remain separate from mainstream social life.

    Ethnic conflicts in Pakistan between Baloch , Pashtun , Punjabis , and Sindhis , are other impediments to the melting pot thesis. Afghanistan seems to be in the process of becoming a melting pot, as customs specific to particular ethnic groups are becoming summarily perceived as national traits of Afghanistan. The term Afghan was originally used to refer to the Pashtuns in the Middle Ages, and the intention behind the creation of the Afghan state was originally to be a Pashtun state , but later this policy changed, leading to the inclusion of non-Pashtuns in the state as Afghans.

    Today in Afghanistan, the development of a cultural melting pot is occurring, where different Afghanistan ethnic groups are mixing together to build a new Afghan ethnicity composed of preceding ethnicities in Afghanistan today, ultimately replacing the old Pashtun identity which stood for Afghan. With the churning growth of Persian , many ethnic groups, including de-tribalized Pashtuns, are adopting Dari Persian as their new native tongue. Many ethnic groups in Afghanistan tolerate each other, while the Hazara —Pashtun conflict was notable, and often claimed as a Shia-Sunni conflict instead of ethnic conflict, as this conflict was carried out by the Taliban.

    Pashtun— Tajik rivalries have lingered about, but are much milder. Reasons for this antipathy are criticism of Tajiks for either their non-tribal culture or cultural rivalry in Afghanistan by Pashtuns and criticism of Taliban mostly composed of Pashtuns by Tajiks.

    There have been rivalries between Pashtuns and Uzbeks as well, which is likely very similar to the Kyrgyzstan Crisis , which Pashtuns would likely take place as Kyrgyz for having a similar nomadic culture , rivaling with Tajiks and Uzbeks of sedentary culture , despite all being Sunni Muslims. This was performed on several levels, such as educating the younger generation with the parents not having the final say and to mention an anecdotal one encouraging and sometimes forcing the new citizens to adopt a Hebrew name.

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    Activists such as the Iraq-born Ella Shohat that an elite which developed in the early 20th century, out of the earlier-arrived Zionist Pioneers of the Second and Third Aliyas immigration waves —and who gained a dominant position in the Yishuv pre-state community since the s—had formulated a new Hebrew culture, based on the values of Socialist Zionism , and imposed it on all later arrivals, at the cost of suppressing and erasing these later immigrants' original culture. Proponents of the Melting Pot policy asserted that it applied to all newcomers to Israel equally; specifically, that Eastern European Jews were pressured to discard their Yiddish -based culture as ruthlessly as Mizrahi Jews were pressured to give up the culture which they developed during centuries of life in Arab and Muslim countries.

    Critics respond, however, that a cultural change effected by a struggle within the Ashkenazi -East European community, with younger people voluntarily discarding their ancestral culture and formulating a new one, is not parallel to the subsequent exporting and imposing of this new culture on others, who had no part in formulating it. Also, it was asserted that extirpating the Yiddish culture had been in itself an act of oppression only compounding what was done to the Mizrahi immigrants.

    Today the reaction to this doctrine is ambivalent; some say that it was a necessary measure in the founding years, while others claim that it amounted to cultural oppression. Nevertheless, one fifth of current Israel's Jewish population have immigrated from former Soviet Union in the last two decades.