Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts Volume 9: Pluralistic America

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We all know that the United States is a pluralistic country evident by a variety of races, ethnicities, religions, languages, ages, genders, and education levels of its inhabitants. Pluralism is defined as a system or condition in which multiple variations of individuals coexist. There are advantages and disadvantages to the United States’ high level of diversity; one inescapable downside being racial discrimination. The United States is a liberal society and a liberal democracy, which advocates equality for all. There are many American citizens who do not recognize the culture of some races but only recognize the common interests of civil rights and political freedom, income, health care, and education. This will lead to unequal treatment of citizens of different backgrounds other than that of privileged white America. It is critical how American society deals with the relationship between “one” and “public,” how to maintain the balance of diversity, the realization of cultural pluralism rather than the exclusion of minority cultures of multiculturalism, and finally how to make different societies coexist and unify in the multiculturalism of the United States.
Per Priya Murthy’s article, “The Immigration Predicament,” “in less than thirty years, our country will reach a pivotal milestone: the demographics of the United States will reach the point where communities of color will make up the majority of the population” (Murthy, 2014). California, Hawaii, Texas, and New Mexico have already reached the point where people of color make up the majority. Immigration is one of the main contributors to this transformation in the United States population. Our country was founded by immigrants; almost one-fifth of all people in North America will be foreign-born. South Asian Americans specifically, have shaped American history in many ways, even though this fact is not mentioned in many societies. These Asian Americans have paved the way for success in careers such as doctors, engineers, and entrepreneurs.
Immigrants in America face many obstacles such as obtaining U.S. citizenship, racism, Visa issues, and deportation threats and acts. To put an end to these travesties inflicted upon immigrants, immigration reform must be sought out and fought for. For South Asians living in America, immigration reform is imperative in obtaining just laws and rights. Per Priya Murthy’s article, “The Immigration Predicament,” “among the over 3.4 million South Asians living in the United States, over 75% were born outside the United States” (Murthy, 2014). There are many methods South Asians can enter the United States such as family-based visas, dependents of spouses on temporary worker visas, refugees fleeing oppression, as well as, undocumented travel into our country. “As of November 2012, approximately 4.5 million people were awaiting their family-based immigration visas, and approximately 4.6 million were awaiting their employment-based immigration visas” (Murthy, 2014). Obtaining a U.S. visa can be quite difficult, leading many to seek entrance to the United States using alternative methods. Many South Asians have waited almost a decade for employment visas and even longer for green cards. To combat this issue, immigration reform needs to happen expediently.
            The United States was cultivated by immigrants. At our core, we are all created equal and deserve equal rights, no matter what race, religion, or our country of origin. Per Abraham Lincoln’s “The Gettysburg Address”, Lincoln states, “four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” (Lincoln, 1863). To deny immigrants, these same rights denies the words our forefathers used to shape the United States into the great country that it is today. While undocumented immigrants face oppression and hatred, they make up a large percentage of the United States’ population. There were estimated to be around 11.5 million undocumented individuals in 2011 living in the United States (Murthy, 2014). Not having them registered as United States citizens, we as a country, lose their votes for elections and tax revenue. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, which grants two years of temporary relief from deportation and work permits for young immigrants. While this is a step in the right direction, it fails to provide a means for permanent citizenship and is not able to be extended to family members.
            By not having a simple means of obtaining U.S. citizenship, many immigrants resort to staying with spouses who are often abusive to retain residence in America. Per “The Immigration Predicament,” a quarter of participants stated immigration status prevented them from leaving abusive relationships (Murthy, 2014). Another issue these undocumented immigrants face is a lack of employment benefits such as adequate healthcare. Therefore, this creates many issues with health as these immigrants cannot afford to be seen at a hospital; and if they choose to go, debt is created and is generally paid for by the hospital, leading to the decline of the United States financial system. Foreign immigrants must have an accessible and timely means to obtain U.S. citizenship. It must also restore fairness, judicial discretion, as well as strengthen and protect those who seek to be legal American residents. These individuals should not be punished for attempting to do what our forefathers did; travel to our country, which claims to support all people, regardless of race, religion, sexual preference, or gender, and gain proper citizenship to indulge in the same rights that we share. Americans must unite and pressure our government for adequate immigration reform since it is our immigrants that create such a diverse and interesting culture and therefore, a successful economy and enjoyable way of life.
By 2050, white Americans will make up about 49% of the country, whereas Hispanics make up 35% of the country. This will cause a near even parity between the two races, thus eliminating a majority race of America. Foreign immigrants in 1910 were commonly white. However, due to losing two generations of men and women in WWI and WWII, immigrants are predominately composed of different races and colors. Although this is a drastic change, immigration is not evil. If immigration is stopped, food prices will skyrocket by about 17-23% due to not having to pay additional taxes and government-run programs such as insurance. This would make the price of milk, for example, about $6.00 per gallon. Immigration also creates a lucrative income for the government in the form of taxes. Presently, the United States government is attempting to build a wall to help prevent illegal Mexican immigrants from coming to the United States; this, however, would accomplish nothing. We are observing a larger number of illegal Mexican immigrants crossing the border to get back to Mexico, rather than the other way around. Most illegal Mexican immigrants arrive in our country via airplanes, thus rendering the proposed border wall to be nothing more than a deterrent of illegal drug smuggling; which will likely be unsuccessful. This action by the United States government is due to conservatives and their fear of change. Since it takes about fourteen years to immigrate to America legally, this change needs to happen.
Racism, per YUMPU’s article, “Myths and Mirrors: Real Challenges Facing Asian American Students,” is defined as “a social contract that refers to the denigration or subordination of a group based on its racial and cultural characteristics” (YUMPU, 2014). Racism can be applied to all people, no matter the color. Asian Americans face many of the same challenges that African Americans and Mexican Americans have gone through in the history of the United States, however, they typically go unnoticed. When the values of mainstream America and Asian American values are compared, there are numerous similarities, however even more differences which can cause turmoil. Asian Americans make up a large percentage of America; per Pew Research Center’s article, “Demographics of Asian Americans, in 2010, nearly 17.4 million Asian Americas are living in the United States (Pew Research Center, 2013). These Asian Americans favor self-control and discipline, obedience to authority, and a higher level of humility than compared to mainstream Americans. Mainstream Americans value strong social lives, being rewarded often, and express their emotions freely. This causes problems when the two cultures interact, however with time and patience, these differences can aid in developing an interesting multicultural society. Also per YUMPU, “studies have shown that individuals who believe they can function in two cultures were more satisfied with their lives and had lower levels of anxiety and depression” (YUMPU, 2013). This ability to function appropriately in dual cultures is called bicultural competence. Interacting with people of all colors, religions, and races creates the ability of a society, team, business, or social group, to interchange ideas and practices to develop new methods of thinking and solutions to problems that we all face.
The United States is an immigrant-created country. Pew Research Center’s article, “Origins and Destinations of the World’s Migrants, from 1990-2015”, states that “in 2015, 46,630,000 people living in the United States were born in other countries” (Pew Research Center, 2013). Multiculturalism is the most striking and controversial phenomenon in American society. As an ideology, it challenged the traditional American ways of thinking and its value system, prompting Americans to reconsider the country’s history and the future.
 
As a public policy and social practice, immigration changed the content of education at all levels in the United States and helped to correct the racial discrimination of ethnic minorities and women in school and employment; this diversification into American life had political significance, so that respect for diversity segued into the moral and legal standards of American citizens. Multiculturalism refers to the recognition of group differences and the importance of group identity. In the field of education, multicultural emphasis on the primary and secondary schools of different national and cultural traditions of awareness and understanding changed traditional American education in the long-term Anglo-Saxon culture. It also provided students with new knowledge and content to help students understand and respect other cultural traditions and ultimately reduce or even eliminate racist prejudices.
Multiculturalism has brought benefits to the country and, also, many challenges. Per Kofi Annan’s article, “The Role of the State in the Age of Globalization”, “in this era, we have learned our lessons, too: that democracy is the condition for true, lasting, and equitable development; that the rewards of globalization must be seen not only at the center but also at the margins; and that without free, legitimate, and democratic politics, no degree of prosperity can satisfy humanity’s needs nor guarantee lasting peace–even in the age of globalization” (Kofi Annan).
Per the East-West Center, “from 2000 to 2010, the Asian and Asian American population grew faster than any other ethnic groups, increasing by 46%, and the state with the highest percentage of the Asian population in California, followed by Washington, Nevada, and New York” (East-West Center, 2017). This significant increase in the Asian population in the United States contributes a lot to the development of the America society. This is similar to the rapid growth of economics and the growing connection between the United States and China. However, many challenges face American society, specific values, and lifestyle.
Asian value is developing in the United States; the value of community and individual freedom are one of the most potent threats to American society. As Ziauddin Sardar said, “Asian values individual freedom but they value community even more; and they reject the mechanism that turns the signs and symbols of personal freedom into an absolute fetish” (Sardar, 1998). The United States is a country that pursues more individual freedom than community. However, China does not.
In conclusion, there are many diversities between Asian and traditional American culture. Pluralism has the potential to be symbiotic; strongly benefiting both cultures if individuals treat and are treated equally. America has always been a cornucopia of ethnicities, religions, and cultures; this wealth gives America a commanding advantage. Unfortunately, racism will still exist. However, the effects of it can be reduced by practicing tolerance and acceptance. At the birth of our country and in the present day, immigration has been the cornerstone of our nation’s strengths and weaknesses. It is our society comprised of many kinds of people that make America what it is, a united country, who accepts and provides its citizens with freedom, rights, and the equal ability to pursue the dream of happiness.
 
References:
Lincoln, Abraham. (1863). The Gettysburg Address.
Murthy, Priya. (2014). The Immigration Predicament.
Sardar, Ziauddin. (1998). Asian Values are Human Values.
Annam, Kofi. The Role of the State in the Age of Globalization.
YUMPU. (2014). Myths and Mirrors: Real Challenges Facing Asian American Students.
Pew Research Center. (2013). Demographics of Asian Americans in the U.S.
Pew Research Center. (2013). Origins and Destinations of the World’s Migrants, from 1990-2015.
East-West Center. (2017). Asia Matters for America by the East-West Center.

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