Mexican-Americans And Cultural Evolution And Assimilation

Love this interview from Reason discussing Mexican-Americans.

It's amazing how whenever the topic of immigration comes up, the Irish, Italians and Jews (and Chinese) are mentioned. Specifically how they "ghettorized" themsevles. As if they did it by choice. Indeed, the refusal of the majority to accept them played a part. Here in Quebec, French-Canadians discriminated against, for example, les Italiens who were seen as stealing jobs.

Look. Back when these minorities came into North America, creating Little Italy's and Chinatown's was a way of coping in an Anglo-Saxon, Scottish, German, Dutch - and in Quebec, French-Canadians - world. They first self-identified, supported one another and then took on the power base. They did this because they didn't have the luxury of all these PC rules and laws that benefit new immigrants. They had to literally fight, scratch and claw their way up.

Despite the massive immigration numbers over a couple of centuries, proportionally speaking, no one ever talked about learning German or Italian. But now, given our new knowledge and tolerance, learning Spanish is encouraged.


The other interesting part mentioned in the video is the term "symbolic ethnic." Eventually, as we move further away from our heritage, we lose the language but identify with other parts of a culture like food and diet. The degree to which an ethnicity experiences this depends on the level of assimiliation which is connected to the amount of time they've been part of a host nation.

Italians, for example, are further along the assimilation path than Greeks or Armenians. You'll still encounter Greeks who speak Greek amongst themselves. Less so, dramatically even (if at all), with Italians.

As for the salad bowl theory (aka multiculturalism), never liked it. Meh.

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