Latino Assimilation to American Culture

5 May 2017

The Struggle with the American ‘Melting Pot’ The year is 1776. In an act of defiance of the oppressive rule of the powerful nation of Great Britain, the political leaders of the British-American colonies sign into existence the United States of America. Even before this inception of the United States, North America had been seen as a place where one could move to start a new life and reap the full rewards for one’s work.

These opportunities combined with the new United States government founded on the ideals of freedom and equity have attracted countless amilies from all over the world, making the United States truly a country of immigrants. Immigrants from European nations coming to America both assimilated and helped to shape the culture of the nation. Others, either immigrants or those forced to come to the United States, were marked with distinguishable differences from the European majority.

Latino Assimilation to American Culture Essay Example

The Africans and Asians are examples of some of these minorities, but, in my belief, one of the groups that has had the most unique struggle to become part of the ‘great melting pot’ of America is the Latino culture. For many ifferent reasons Latin Americans have struggled to assimilate with the American culture for hundreds of years. In todays America Latinos face challenges and inequities because of their ethnicity, which has been made even more evident by the current anti-immigration political climate.

It is obvious that Latinos in America, even those born on United States soil, have fewer opportunities for success than their white counterparts. Unfortunately, these injustices are minor compared to the overwhelming discrimination their forefathers were subjected to. As with many cases here a society is oppressed, an underground literature serving to vent raw emotions thrived. This literature documents the day to day struggle of Latinos in America, and can give us a picture of what it must have been like to be a Latin American years ago.

It is through this literature that we can analyze how and why Latin Americans work to blend into American culture. One such scholar is Pedro Pietri, a Puerto Rican who came to New York with his family. Pietri’s family was one of thousands to move to New York in the nineteen-forties seeking wealth and a slice of the ‘American dream’. Pietri’s first and most significant piece, “Puerto Rican Obituary’ gave a profound insight into what life was like for the so called Nuyoricans. Nuyoricans were considered second class citizens and mostly worked in Jobs that required unskilled labor (Velez, 193).

This was in part due to the fact that most Puerto Ricans coming to New York lacked skills which made them employable, but mostly because cheap migrant labor was easy for New York businesses to take advantage of. In response many Nuyorican workers would do everything they could to imitate their white counterparts, because they associated the white culture with success. Part of the poem, “Puerto Rican Obituary’ exemplifies this, “They are dead and will not return from the dead until they stop neglecting the art of their dialogue for broken English lessons to impress the mister goldsteins” (Pietri, 217).

In many cases parents would make their children adopt white culture as well with the hope that they will have the lives they themselves could not. Veronica Chambers is a Latinegra, or dark skinned Latina, who grew up in America and is now an accomplished writer in Latin American Studies. To all appearances Veronica was another Atrican American growing up in Brooklyn and as a child she was encouraged to be nothing more than that. Later in life she found strong ties to her native country, but as a child her father reinforced the idea of integration with comments such as; are American” and “Speak English” (Chambers).

He even went so far as to name her brother Malcolm X to increase his familys likeness to African Americans. Unfortunately, trying to adopt American culture changed the social status of Latinos very little because they were judged by their ethnicity not the quality of their English or how well they could keep up with modern fashion. No amount of cultural assimilation would give them the American dream they sought, but who can blame them for hoping?

The human brain is designed to gain meaning from the world in patterns, and the pattern that stood out most clearly to them was; ‘Those who don’t stand out from American society get what they want out of life. ‘ Economic gain was a strong motivation for many Latinos to integrate, but others had more socially driven incentives. Latin Americans who have spent their whole lives stateside inevitably learn how to act ‘American’ in order to fit in at school and in public. A good example is Cherrie Moraga. Moraga is a Chicana, who grew up in California as the daughter of her two fairly well off Hispanic parents.

She was considered a Gјera, or fair skinned Hispanic, meaning that she could pass as a person of white ethnicity. In some ways Moraga had all of the opportunities that came with being in the ethnic majority, but having these opportunities required that she hide her Hispanic cultural roots. In her essay, “La Gјera”, she explained the decision she was faced with; “For years, I had berated myself for not being as “free” as my classmates. I completely bought that they simply had more guts than I did… White was right. Period. I could pass.

If I got educated enough, there would never be any telling” (Moraga 251). Youth of all nationalities tend to undervalue the worth of rich heretical tradition, in the face of the daily struggle to find identity and fit in with their peers (Masci, 887). Sadly, faced with the same choice that Moraga had, an opportunity to assimilate and fit in as another typical American, most Latino youth make the same decision. Human beings are social creatures, we all share an inherent urge to be accepted by others, and this is the reason that assimilation will always occur.

The merging of cultures is not always a negative thing, in fact, traditions and customs have been exchanged between different societies for as long as civilization has existed. In many ways, adopting a way of life from the people around one’s self is a natural phenomenon. The problem with Latino assimilation in America is that the majority views their culture as superior and discriminates against those who do not fit this mold. Even worse, our majority is keen to have others conform to their norms, but is reluctant to adopt traits from other cultures.

Change is being unintentionally forced pon our Latin Americans so it is no surprise that so many Latinos strive to assimilate with the American culture. When we as United States citizens can finally learn to freely exchange the traits that make our ethnicities rich, then we can rise above our separate races and be united as one race, the human race. In the words of Gloria Anzaldua, a leading Latino studies scholar, “One day the inner struggle will cease and a true integration take place. In the meantime tenemos que hacer la lucha.

A limited
time offer!
Save Time On Research and Writing. Hire a Professional to Get Your 100% Plagiarism Free Paper