Professor Alex TrilloSegmented Assimilation
October 31, 2018
The United States of America is a diverse country. The US is home to immigrants from many different countries around the world. These immigrants come to the US for a number of reasons, whether its to find refuge from their country or start a better life for their relatives to join them once settled. When immigrants arrive, they bring along their important cultural traditions from their home countries. Though, especially in America, when immigrants settle in a new country, there is an expectation that they will adopt some of the aspects of their new culture. Sociologists call this assimilation. A process that occurs when immigrant groups begin to adopt the norms of the dominant culture. This includes language, cultural morals, national holidays, and beliefs. Assimilation can also be described as a social process where groups in a society start to resemble one another. Along with assimilation comes acculturation. This is the transfer of values, norms, and beliefs to a minority group. An example of this in US history is when slave masters forced their slaves to practice their religion, learn English, and even change their original names. Assimilation is when immigrant groups are incorporated into the larger culture. Segmented assimilation is a theory that says different immigrant groups assimilate into different segments of society. So, the theory tries to describe what happens to the children of immigrants, considering there are barriers that prevent immigrant groups from adapting or assimilating into the dominant culture in society. This perspective goes to say that the United States is an unequal society. So when immigrants arrive in the U.S., there are different segments available to them, depending on their socioeconomic status.
In the book “Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in the U.S” written by Juan Gonzalez, many people all over the world are able to get a glimpse into the word of the Latin American society, culture, economy and military interests that have molded the country. In this book, I have learned many things from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to the Zoot Suit Riots, but the most interesting thing that stood out to me was the musical aspect of Latin America and how it has migrated into the United States. For many people, they believe that Salsa had originated in Spain, but actually originate in East New York, known today as Spanish Harlem. During the 1940s and 1950s, musicians from Cuba has had a huge influence on music scene in New York, Cuban musicians could no longer travel to the United States and Cuban recordings received no airplay time. The Puerto Ricans and NuYorican (Puerto Rican New Yorkers) musicians took and created the New York Hispanic scene. In todays society, New York salsa has more of a Puerto Rican sound, which is more smooth and sweet; a jazz-like perspective, For other Latin countries such as Panama and the Colombia, the United States have also established diplomatic relations with both countries.
On November 3rd, 1903, Panama has declared its independence from Colombia. Panama has grated the United States rights to a zone spanning the country to build, administer, fortify and defend an inter-oceanic canal. U.S. assistance to Panama aims to ensure that it remains a secure, prosperous, and democratic country that continues to work with the United States as its principal partner in the region. The United States and Panama decided to together to advance common interests in terms of the safety of citizens and the law within both countries. Both cooperated in terms of the spread of drug trafficking, promoting economic and social growth. In 1822, The United States established diplomatic relations with Colombia. The U.S. government has helped Colombia get back on its feet due to the neglect of the country by the government, crime and conflicts of peace within the country. The U.S. had created programs to help support the Colombian government, land reforms, educational programs and the respect for human rights. Majority of the time, immigrants have an easy time adjusting to life in their new home. A second path involves downward mobility. On this path immigrants assimilate into poorer parts of society. There are two major theories of assimilation, known as straight-line assimilation and segmented assimilation. Segmented assimilation is a theory that suggests different immigrant groups assimilates into different parts of society. These paths connect to three processes that summarize the relations between immigrant children, their parents, and ethnic communities, consonant, dissonant, and selective acculturation. Consonant acculturation happens when the children and parents both learn American culture and gradually abandon their own self-identity and culture. As these children enter the American society, they achieve upward mobility with the support of their parents. In contrast to Latino groups such as Panama, Puerto Rico and Colombia, each culture has in some way transformed their lives to fit the standards on American society. Panamanian migration to New York began in the late 1800s with immigrants first settling in Harlem, later moving to Brooklyn. Almost twenty percent of Panama-born immigrants in Metro New York arrived in the United States before 1965, most of who arrived in the 1950s and early 60s. Immigration continued in the late 1960s until the 1980s before slowing down in the 1990s. Almost all immigrants have come from in and around Panama City or the former Panama Canal Zone.
After the passage of the Jones Act in 1917, Puerto Ricans had the ability to become U.S citizens. A migrant population grew rapidly in New York City, where a post–World War I economy attracted thousands of Puerto Rican workers each year. For Colombians, Colombians first started having a noticeable presence in New York City after World War I, when several hundred professionals and students formed a community in Jackson Heights. The Colombian community in New York started to swell. Even when order was restored in Colombia, emigration increased, and a recession in the 1960s further increased the outpouring of Colombians into the Big Apple. This new wave of immigration brought a working-class majority that quickly outnumbered the pioneering professionals. As chaos continued in Colombia due to the activities of drug cartels and a corrupt government in the 1980s, the Colombian population in Queens expanded. A carryover of violence and cartel activity into Chapinerito then led some Colombians to extend their settlements to areas in New Jersey and Connecticut. For many immigrants such as Colombians, Panamanians, and Puerto Ricans, the United States has been a source of freedom, expansion and conformity to the new life away from their culture. From cultural indifferences, to self-identity, many children born in the United States to parents of Latin American culture have lost a sense of their heritage and culture due to the strong impact of American society and expectations which leave many more “Americanized” than culturally educated.
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