Assimilation into a society is difficult for anyone, yet is especially difficult for those who have social externalities. Social externalities are those that are visible, physical qualities. There are three forms of assimilation: Anglo-conformity, melting pot, and cultural pluralism. The form of assimilation found in the article, For Chinese in USA, all is not happy by Mei-Mei Chan (USA TODAY) is Anglo-conformity.
Anglo-conformity is the become like me form of assimilation. Where it is expected for one to lose sight of his/her own culture and to conform to the Anglo-Saxon, protestant view. This is a win/lose situation; the Chinese are gaining American culture and language, yet are losing sight of their own. However, for the Chinese, complete assimilation is difficult due to their social externalities. I try to pretend that I m not Chinese at all I tell my parents, You’re in America You should be more American. They say, Your Chinese. (Samuel Wong speaker, Chan) The Chinese-American youth have experience much discrimination because of their social externalities. They try to hide from their culture and be more like me or be more American.
Primary relationships between Chinese-Americans have been constantly changing. Chinese culture has a much stricter idea of family. In American society, primarily relationships rarely exist in the larger population. American culture is like a straight line, ready for a race. Whereas the Chinese culture is like a circle the straight line clashes with the circle. (Chan) The Chinese are losing their group oriented culture and gaining more of an individualistic culture.
Primary relationships, those closest to one s life, become more different when Anglo-conformity comes into play. Families spread apart. Chinese youth speak very little Chinese with their parents mostly due to the fact that the parents are working almost around the clock. It is much easier for the youth to absorb the English language than for older Chinese. A youth mind is much easier to soak up the knowledge. This creates a serious language barrier between parents and their children. With parents working around the clock, youths absorb English, block out Chinese and end up speaking Chinglish. (Chan)
With the language barrier, also comes a cultural barrier. Body language is one cultural barrier for Chinese-American. For example, Minh Thang Tat was taught that folding his arms and looking down is a sign of respect. However in America, you must look into one s eyes to show respect. (Chan) Another cultural barrier deals with education. Chinese students have strict study habits. They hardly, if at all, participate in athletics; they put all of their energy into schoolwork.
As states by Bill Liu, You re Chinese-American it s a hyphenated identity. Youth are becoming more Americanized and are experiencing identification assimilation. They want to fit in or become American. The parents, on the other hand, like the way they are and do not want to change. Uprooted parents, Immigrant families struggling for survival are themselves bewildered by surroundings, and can offer little support to help their children s social and cultural struggles. (Chan) Structural assimilation occurs with the integration of schools and other functions.
There are many stereotypes placed upon the Chinese. This form of discrimination comes from their own and other cultures. Both majority group and minority group members may hold stereotypes about each other. (Parillo, 78) Often the major influence on stereotyping is social externalities. The main social externalities that the Chinese possess are their slanted eyes and straight black hair. Simply by looking at these social externalities, people begin to form their own opinions. On the other hand Beatrice Liu is now finding her ethnic background as an advantage rather than a disadvantage.
The idea of ghettos was raised in the article, For Chinese in USA, all is not happy. A ghetto is an isolated part of a city where one culture lives, as if it were their very own culture. Ghettos are not limited to the lower classes. However, ghettos are usually low rent places, located near subways and other public means of transportation. The Chinese in these ghettos feel segregated both, socially and spatially. (Parillo, 278) This keeps them from completely assimilating. A Chinese ghetto would be referred to as a Chinatown.
D.Y. Yaun believed there are four steps that were involved in developing Chinatowns. When Yaun observed New York City s Chinatown. The primary stage is the involuntary choice to move there in response to social prejudices and discrimination. The secondary stage is for protection against hostility. The third stage is voluntary segregation to themselves. The fourth is gradual assimilation. (Parillo, 278)
Assimilation will probably always be a continuous process. Anglo-conformity is the assimilation demonstrated in this article, and not just with the Chinese, but other cultures as well. Unless discrimination, stereotypes based on social externalities, and language/cultural barriers come to a halt, assimilation will not.Bibliography
Chan, Mei Mei For Chinese in USA, All is Not Happy. USA Today