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Assimilation and Acculturation: The Evolution of Becoming an American

Apr 22, 2023 | 0 comments

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Apr 22, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

Becoming an American is mostly associated with assimilation and acculturation. According to Fitts (2), assimilation is the process whereby the immigrants try to fit into the host society. Acculturation in America is defined as adopting the culture and customs of a different ethnic group. Immigrants from different parts of the world believe that becoming an American is embracing the new country by learning their values and customs. They normally do this by buying new clothes and changing their appearance altogether, learning the language; this was a huge step to becoming an American and trying to adapt to their way of life (Fitts, 5-8). Learning the American culture also involves adapting American foodways. How people made food could differentiate the insiders from the outsiders (Fitts, 10). In his quest to become an American, Pete had to put special emphasis on personal hygiene and cleanliness to fit into the American middle-class lifestyle (Fitts, 11).

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Becoming an American today is very different from how it was in the 19th and 20th centuries. People have a different perception of what being an American means and it has become much easier as compared to how it used to be. Back in the 19th century, immigrants were considered not to be legally white so they were denied citizenship (Baxter, 30). Some had to pay a monthly tax of .50 as a privilege of residing in the state. It was also necessary to assimilate for an immigrant to increase his/her chances of finding a job and avoid being excluded and ridiculed (Fitts, 5). It is very different today because of the amended laws. It is easier to become a citizen in America just by marriage or by birth even if you are an immigrant from whichever country.

There are many similarities in the lives of different groups of people living in different parts of America. These communities show so many similarities in their settlement program. They all settled in the same areas for various reasons. The African American community settled in Indiana because it was easier to start up a business there and build their economy (Mullins, 89). In California, the Chinese were forced to stay together as a way of defending themselves against ant-Chinese activities (Baxter, 31). The Japanese population was also forced by the War Relocation Authority to relocate to isolated interior parts of the country (Shew and Kamp-Whittaker, 304).

According to the archeological evidence found, the communities found a way of coming together and dealing with the harsh conditions of their lives. The Chinese immigrants in California made sure that they abide by the laws to avoid any conflict that could result in violence. They built a system of wood, ceramics, and pipes that drained waste from their houses into the main city line (Baxter, 31). The Willis Funeral Home is evidence of how entrepreneurial the African Americans were as means of bettering their lives (Mullins, 93). The Japanese ceramics found in the camps where they used to live during the war shows that women were involved in cooking in the barracks which acted as motivation and boosted their cultural identity which brought them closer despite their living conditions (Shew and Kamp-Whittaker, 310).

Work Cited

Baxter, R. Scott. The Response of California Chinese Population to The Anti-Chinese Movement. 42nd ed., Society for Historical Archeology, 2008, pp. 29-36.

Fitts, Robert K. Becoming American: The Archeology of An Italian Immigrant. 36th ed., Society for Historical Archaeology, 2002, pp. 1-17.

Mullins, Paul R. Marketing in a Multicultural Neighborhood. 42nd ed., Society for Historical Archeology, 2008, pp. 88-96.

Shew, Dana, and April Kamp-Whittaker. Perseverance and Prejudice: Maintaining Community in Amache, Colorado’s World War II Japanese Internment Camp. Springer Science + Business Media New York, 2008.

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