Depth (IN) - History 2200: Americanization
To satisfy the Social and Behavioral Sciences and Diversity requirement for General Education, I signed up for Americanization in the Fall Semester of 2017. Why I decided to enroll in this course over any other social science and diversity related class was that I was eager to learn about the immigrant's perspective and side of United States history that I had felt was hidden and not discussed enough in detail in any of my previous history courses from Elementary to High School. Before entering this course I had barely any knowledge of the barriers and marginalization that immigrant groups faced throughout American history, and that some formerly marginalized groups such as the Irish subsequently become a part of the powerstructure to then marginalize a later arriving group, like the Italians. This is true of pretty much every group of immigrants we studied in the course, since after they had been in the United States for a while they are accepted by the powerstructure, and a new group arrives as the people to marginalize and discriminate against by the Americanized immigrants.
In the beginning of the course, I was actually very excited and eager to learn all about the different immigrant groups in detail and about their personal immigration experiences. I'm glad to say that I enjoyed learning about all the different immigration waves, and how hard or easy it was for them to assimilate into American society and the overarching powerstructure. The most challenging aspect of the course for me was the exams, since I really put my all into them, and try to really think about what I'm writing about and how to best convey my message clearly and concisely. Another challenging aspect for me was the frequent discussions we had of documents, events, and the cultural identity of the different immigration groups, since I had to learn to speak up more often and how to quickly put my thoughts into words that made sense to anyone else. I am including my essay on the main groups of people studied in the Americanization course, Native Americans, African-Americans and immigrants from all parts of the world. I will describe the most difficult obstacles faced by each group, and cite specific examples of marginalization and specific groups of people that were subjected to these acts.
For my signature assignment, I have uploaded a PDF version of my fifteen-page-essay on the main groups of people studied in the Americanization course, Native Americans, African-Americans and Japanese-Americans. I have described the most difficult obstacles faced by each group and cited specific examples of marginalization and specific groups of people that were subjected to these acts.
Americanization Eportfolio Exam
How has this course increased your awareness of the difficulties that immigrants faced in America in their quest to be accepted and considered "Americans"? What information or knowledge from other courses you have taken has added to your experience in this course? (Cite the courses) Minimum length one-page text.
This course has enlightened me on many things regarding the difficulties and marginalization that immigrants to the United States had to deal with including the fact that former immigrants would marginalize newer arrivals even if they were from the same country and spoke the same language. This is because the former immigrants had learned how to imitate and win the favor of the power structure and had most likely given up portions of their identity in doing such, so when unassimilated members of their group came to the United States, they feared it would reflect badly on them. In fact, in many cases, the established immigrants would help newer arrivals to acculturate or assimilate into the United States, find a job and housing, and at least in the ethnic cities, would serve as a reminder and remnant of how life was in the home country. From this course, I learned that the ethnic cities, revolving credit lines, and loyalty to spend one’s money at businesses owned by members of one’s immigrant group were crucial to immigrants reaching a higher level of economic prosperity and eventually being accepted by the power structure. These three elements allowed immigrants to maintain their cultural identity, open their own business, and then when they became prosperous to assist others in doing the same by supplying a loan or capital for them to open their own business as well.
Another interesting difficulty immigrants faced was being pigeon-holed as the group that did a particular job, and how a new group would receive that label once the first had reached a better level of economic prosperity and were now a part of the blue collar or white-collar workforce. One example was the revolving stereotype of being the immigrant group that does the physically demanding and/or dangerous work that no one else wants to do for the slave wages employers want to pay, which was first applied to Irish immigrants, Chinese immigrants, then to Japanese immigrants, then to Mexican immigrants or even to Mexican-Americans themselves. It showed that ignorant anti-immigration people’s hostility never goes away, in fact, it usually just gets thrown onto a new group of people once they have become the new scapegoat for whatever challenges the United States is currently facing. Finally, this course made me aware of just how much immigrants have contributed to this country, and that many of them, unfortunately, had to give up significant portions of who they are or were to be accepted by the mainstream society. This, of course, was not always the case, but many immigrants have lost their original culture in the pursuit of being accepted and reaching economic prosperity in the United States.
Information from my summer 2017 World Religions course transferred and added to my appreciation of this course since I understood the differences between say Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism with each being more liberal and open than the previous one. It also added to my understanding of the Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian immigrants, as well as Hindu/Asian-Indian, and Muslim immigrants from all over the world. Because of my World Religions course, I understood more of the culture and environment the immigrants had come from, and why assimilation may be difficult for them on a cultural level. An example would be an Orthodox Jew having to figure out how to work a job and stay observant in their faith when their Sabbath day goes from dusk on Friday to dusk on Saturday, and they cannot do very much at all during their Sabbath observance. Another difficulty they may face is how to practice their dietary restrictions of only eating kosher meats and separating dairy and eggs from meat in meals. The dietary restriction factor also applies to Muslim people that can only have meat deemed halal and have the addition of the rotating month of Ramadan, in which they have to abstain from water, food, and sexual activity during daylight hours. Another factor for an observant Muslim immigrant would be their five daily prayers and their equivalent of a communal church meeting on Friday afternoon since they would have to pause whatever they are doing at work to do a full body prayer and try to receive Friday afternoons off of work for their communal prayer meeting. So, the World Religions course added tremendous depth to each group of immigrants that we studied, and I am so glad that I took it when I did.
Another course that added to my knowledge was my Philosophy class that went over the Eastern Philosophy of Lao Tzu, Confucius, and Buddha/Siddhartha Gautama, that became the religions of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. This added since I understood more of why Japanese immigrants during Internment were so dedicated to being honorable and not ruining the family name by protesting the unconstitutionality and immorality of what the United States government did to them. These beautiful religions (more like life philosophies) stress manners, self-sacrifice, dignity, empathy, detachment from one’s personal suffering, and becoming a better more honorable type of person, so when Japanese Internment occurred I can see why they would want to preserve their dignity and honor by quietly going to the Internment camps instead of fighting it in court and appearing as a less mannered and honorable person that accepts their fate with dignified stoicism.
Of course, my American Institutions and Native American Voices courses also added to my understanding of the course, since I had already learned many of the forms of discrimination and marginalization that had happened to Mexican-Americans and African-Americans, and I knew the Native American perspective of events in more detail. These two courses allowed me to have a baseline of knowledge, so that I could better understand the types of discrimination that occurred against those not considered “white” by the power structure of the time in history, and to know when events happened. The Native American Voices course especially helped me understand the Native American version of United States history, and just how much of their culture was lost when they were forced onto reservations and into attending the boarding schools. This particular course also allowed me to know the fight Native American tribes had to undertake to regain their sovereignty and self-determination from paternalistic or nefarious groups that sought to turn them into white people or to steal their natural resources. So, all of the previously mentioned courses enhanced my knowledge about United States history from many different perspectives, which intensified my understanding of the difficulties immigrants faced as they sought to be naturalized as citizens of the United States.