[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Immigration and Assimilation

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Immigration and Assimilation

As with most Americans these days, I've been thinking about immigration lately. However, not in the way you might think.

Mainly, I've been thinking about the generations of American immigrants throughout this nation's history that have assimilated, sooner or later, to American culture. Hispanics get a bad rap for being slow or even unwilling to assimilate, according to some Americans, especially those on the far-right.

"Learn the language". "Speak English or leave". We've heard them all before, and while it's only a minority of Americans who think this way, I've never quite understood what the big deal is. I mean, everybody knows that eventually we forget to speak the mother tongue and become monolingual just like most Americans, right?

There's my problem right there. I assume that everyone lives in a community like Miami where being different is the norm, where assimilation mixes with immigration. The end result is a conglomeration of the assimilated and non-assimilated, of the third-generation Cuban-American teen who can't speak Spanish and the elderly Cuban immigrant who can't speak English. In the middle of these extremes is a rather unique beast in the United States, the bi-cultural and bilingual American which in Miami is as common as a traffic jam on I-95.

However, as Carrie from Bilingual in the Boonies points out, being a first-generation, bi-cultural and bilingual American shouldn't be taken for granted. In Carrie's case, being far from Miami (Tennessee to be exact) makes those traits stand out. Her recollection of comments she's heard are eerily familiar to ones that I've heard during my days living outside of Miami, including the time I lived about 3 hours east of her down I-40 in the ridges hugging the Smoky Mountains.

This statement by Carrie says it all:
What I walk around with is the true belief that I have a responsibility to be a great example of immigration, assimilation, acculturation, humanity and the cherished American Dream.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Henry Gomez said...

Anyone that says that Hispanics don't want to learn english doesn't know anything about Hispanics. I work in the Spanish language advertising business and for as long as I can remember the biggest spender in Spanish language media is a company called Lexicon Marketing. You may not be familiar with that name but perhaps their product "Ingles Sin Barreras" (English without Barriers) does.

Hispanic business estimates that the company spent $162 Million advertising its learn-English programs on Spanish TV.

11:23 PM, May 23, 2007  
Blogger Henry Gomez said...

Forgot the link

11:25 PM, May 23, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

How about my favorite one:

Justilanguage!

10:12 AM, May 24, 2007  

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