Diner Gjerde and Takaki Looking Term Paper

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These years would come to define the modern American woman as a counterpoint to her sheltered Victorian counterpart.

4. Looking at the number of immigrants by region of the world from 1925 to 1981 and 1982 to 2005, as noted in the 2005 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, and at the number of asylees and refugees arrived and granted asylum, and deported aliens. From which regions and countries in the world do most recent new Americans come from, and in what proportion? Quantify the changes? What political and social reasons could be the reason for such changes? What impact might these changes in immigrant origins have on American society and culture?

The first waves of immigration to sweep through the United States during the 20th century would be European in origin. At a time when much of Europe would be fractured by conflict, poverty and political strife, the United States would appear as an appropriate place to seek shelter. It is thus that so may Italians, Germans, Irishmen, Russians and Poles would come to American during the period between the end of World War I and the end of the Cold War. During this time, Europe would be consumed by fractious territorial disputes, brutal ethnic conflicts and bloody struggles for local, regional and continental power. Relatively isolated from these struggles would be the mainland of the United States. And as we have discussed, many of these groups would be greeted with less than hospitable conditions.

But as most of these groups were of a Caucasian ethnicity, several generations of cultural assimilation have made their differences all but impossible to spot. It is thus that these predominantly white immigrant groups have today assimilated into the mainstream definition of that which is seen as 'American.'

This remains so even as a shift in the ethnic makeup of those arriving in the United States -- initiating in the early 1980s and continuing to present day -- has a significant bearing on the racial proportion of the American population. As Takaki remarks "this emerging demographic diversity has raised fundamental questions bout America's identity and culture. In 1990, Time published a cover story on 'America's Changing Colors.' 'Someday soon,' the magazine announced, 'white Americans will become a minority group.' How soon? By 2056, most Americans will trace their descent to 'Africa, Asia, the Hispanic world, the Pacific Islands, Arabia -- almost anywhere but white Europe.'" (Takaki, 2)

This helps to quantify a condition in which the perception of that which it means to be 'American' must increasingly be adjusted. One of the major reasons for the transition in immigration patterns is the process of globalization which in recent decades has attempted to draw those nations of the 'developing' world into a single global economy. As a result, nations in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East are increasingly playing a major role in the global economic scheme. This is opening the door to the United States for those arriving in search of specific market opportunities such as the countless Indian immigrants arriving with specialized technology training; for those arriving as part of the formulation of a growing labor class such as those leaving Mexico in search of better wages in the U.S.; and for those escaping political strife in embattled regions of the world such as the Middle Easterners and Africans making their homes in America.

5. Describe efforts by Blacks and other Americans to challenge both the legal and customary forms of segregation and discrimination in the United States after 1945, and the process of dismantling legal segregation and discrimination by 1967. Discuss whether the United States, at the federal and state level, have abolished segregation without the need to win the Cold War?

The Civil Rights movement would be the most important revolution in American cultural identity since the resolution of the Civil War. This is primarily because it addressed one of the most persistent questions in arriving at a true and factual American identity. The recurrent theme in our discussion concerning American identity as a function of white racial dominance would finally be legally eroded by the effectiveness of the Civil Rights movement in ultimately achieving Constitutional validation. It is thus that a movement largely led by America's most deeply oppressed group would force the hand of a government long resistant to change.

By using organized and peaceful protest to stand up for its entitlement to be acknowledged as American, the black community demanded that America recognize its own hypocrisy. The definition of America as this narrowly defined racial majority was no longer relevant. To the point, though the movement would be strengthened by its alliance with the anti-war movement in Vietnam -- paving the way for suggestions that the Cold War ultimately superceded America's interest in segregation -- the Civil Rights movement would be an inexorable march toward progress. The definition of 'minority' groups bears an inherent contradiction, as the number of black Americans who took to the streets during the Civil Rights movement amply suggests. Certainly, their resistance would be in numbers to great to continue the modes of oppression used to restrain them. The outcome would also be the redefining of that which it means to be an American and bearing a cross for the future struggle of so many American cultural subsets.

6. Takaki stresses that the change affecting American society now is momentous -- the passing of an America in which being White was the norm, and non-Whites were minorities, to one where Whites are only one of several major ethnic/racial groups. Will such racial divisions be enduring? What impact will such a development have on American culture? Discuss the potential future of American society in the light of long-term trends in American history.

Perhaps one of the most salient indicators that America's racial orientation is changing would be the presidency of Barrack Obama. Given the strong resistance which he has encountered from a racially entrenched opposition and political parties which largely reflect a desire to retain America's white cultural orientation, it is clear that we are currently in the throes of a transition. Obama's origins as a man with Asian and African ethnic elements in his background denote a candidate increasingly more reflective of the cultural realities for so many voters than the white, Christian candidate that is the general archetype in our system of political leadership.

This may be a window into some of the changes that we can project in American society and culture. At present, it remains so that racial characteristics are a prime determinant of socioeconomic class. The bulk of wealth in this nation remains possessed by an elite class of white, Christian men who also occupy many of the highest offices in governance, the highest seats in commerce and a relative insulation from many of the broader patterns in the economy effected the middle and working classes.

It will fall largely upon those making up America's new ethnic realities to enforce changes in cultural representation as well. Today, though the ethnic landscape is shifting, the economic realities here remain heavily tilted against those of non-white backgrounds. It is difficult to project exactly how long it will take for these conditions to be altered by the demographic changes now occurring. However, it is clear that the perspective of ordinary Americans must surely be changing.

Though we remain closely connected to the idea of the American as white and of European descent, our everyday encounters and the diversity of our own personal backgrounds suggest that this is neither realistic nor constructive. Ultimately, it is this change in perspective that will be the catalyzing force in altering the more concrete barriers promoting by economic prejudice and an absence of fair political representation.

Works Cited:

Diner, H.R. (1983). Erin's Daughters in America: Irish Immigrant Women in the Nineteenth Century. The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Gjerde, J. (1988). Major Problems in American Immigration and Ethnic History, Houghton Miflin Company.

Hooker, C. (2004). Ford's Sociology Department and the Americanization Campaign and the Manufacture of Popular Culture Among Assembly Line Workers c.1910 -- 1917. The Journal of…[continue]

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