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As an immigrant nation with many different racial and ethnic groups in the population, America's racial division seems almost like an inevitable part of its culture. With the presence of such racial division, it often leads to many conflicts among the various racial groups and may also create detrimental effects on America's social and economic setting.
Therefore, it is vital for Americans to search for a balance amidst this diversity which will help bring peace and harmony to their nation, or ideally, a stop to their racial problems. To achieve E Pluribus Unum would be the ideal goal of America, but the way to achieve this utopia is very much debatable.
Assimilation has been one of the key factors in achieving pluralism in America as it is a common topic that is being discussed in all three articles. The authors all gave their own take on the current situation as well as the rationale behind these often complex relationships between various racial groups. The word “assimilation” has also been examined closely by the authors in their article to give us a deeper understanding on the issue at hand. In the articles, ‘E Pluribus Unum' by Diana Eck, ‘America's Changing Color Lines: Immigration, Race/Ethnicity, and Multiracial Identification' by Jennifer Lee and Frank D. Bean and ‘Personal Voices: Facing Up to Race' by Carrie Ching, the authors tried to define and search for evidence of assimilation in American society and also its level of success in helping America achieve its aim of pluralism. The complex and diverse immigrant history was also taken into consideration when analyzing the current racial division in America, as it has a huge impact on America's society today. In her article, Diana Eck discussed about how Americans view their dynamic cultural and racial diversity differently; whereas Lee and Bean redefined the boundaries of all the racial groups through a sociological perspective on issues such as interracial marriages. Carrie Ching highlighted the fundamental problems of racial division and discrimination and challenges Americans to confront their own racial issues.
Assimilation, whereby all racial groups – Whites, Blacks, Asians and Latinos – are able to come together and transform and take on a new American identity, with a set of shared experience, beliefs, culture and values. This is also in sync with the ideal American “Melting Pot” theory, whereby according to Diana Eck, “immigrants will come and blend in, contributing to the cultural mix but ultimately relinquishing the most distinctive aspects of their home culture to take on American culture.” However, assimilation does not apply to all racial groups as Carrie Ching pointed out in her article that “only people of color are forced to face up to their histories of migration”. This clearly indicates that only the White Europeans are given the luxury of assimilation to become a ‘real' American, but for the other racial groups, they will always be “treated like visitors in their own home.”(Carrie Ching).
A common point that all the authors agreed on is that assimilation is a process which will take generations to achieve as Americans need time to be accustomed to the changes around them, especially when it comes to racial and cultural changes. However, this process has been accelerated with higher education levels and also an increase in interracial marriages. In Lee and Bean's article, they mentioned that “Trends in exogamy are significant as a measure of decreasing social distance, declining racial/ethnic prejudice and changing racial/ethnic group boundaries”. They also highlighted that “increases in intermarriage and the growth of the multiracial population reflect a blending of races and the fading of color lines”. Evidence of an increase in interracial marriage can be seen in Lee and Bean's article, as “two-thirds of married Asians and two-fifths of Latinos out-marry, again mostly to whites”. From these statistics, one may draw conclusion that the racial division is slowly fading out. However, upon closer inspection, one will realize that the increase in interracial marriages only applies to mainly the Asians and Latinos with the Whites, but not amongst the Blacks and Whites. This ongoing discrimination of the Blacks is also highlighted by Carrie Ching in her article where she pointed out that many White parents would rather their child bring home a White person who is poor rather than one who is Black. Therefore, it is much harder for the Blacks to assimilate into the American identity as compared to Asians and Latinos, who are “perceived by whites as (more) suitable marriage partners”. (Lee and Bean)
Nevertheless, with an increase in interracial marriage rates between the Asians and Whites and also the Latinos and Whites in America, it creates a generation of multiracial or biracial population which helps to blur the color lines and also dilute the various racial identities. A new color line of “Blacks” versus “Non-Blacks” is redrawn with the emergence of this multiracial or biracial population. Most of the people from this multiracial or biracial group would be considered “Non-Blacks”, and some of them would even consider themselves as “White”, having being successfully assimilated into the “White” American culture. By “achieving economic mobility, emulating the cultural practices of whites, intentionally distancing themselves from blacks”, the Asians and Latinos manage to transform and assimilate into America's society and ultimately be viewed as Whites or at the very least “Non-Blacks” by their fellow Americans. Such a situation creates an even wider rift between the “Blacks” and the ‘Non-Blacks”, as compared to the past where it was mainly the “White” and the “more ethnic”.
The racial division and discrimination in America is certainly not built over the past decade but over a long period of time with a very complex and troubled history. Hence, it also will also take generations of Americans to figure out the best way to solve their racial issue. Assimilation for all race and ethnic groups in America is no easy task but it is very much possible. More importantly, it is definitely not the only way in which pluralism could be achieved. As Diana Eck puts it, “the process of pluralism is never complete, but is the ongoing work of each generation.