During that era, the largest percentage of the population was represented by white Protestants. Their cultural influences were seen in almost all aspects of Americans’ lives. Movies, Music, religion, politics, educational institutions were largely dominate by these groups. Some of the people who regarded themselves as the real natives felt that they were the ideal definition of what it meant to be an American. Most of these social institutions had trouble absorbing minority groups. For example Movies at that time rarely had any black stars and when they were given a role, it was usually as a servant or any other minor role.
There were very few politicians who came from minority groups as racial ideas were still quite conservative at that time. Institutions were not accommodating towards foreigners as policies mainly catered for the dominant white population. Hatred for the Jews In the early twentieth Century, that is, between the 1900 to the 1920s, America had one of the highest influxes of immigrant populations. Most of them came from Europe thus introducing Germans, Italians and the Irish into American soil. Some of them were Jews while others were Catholics.
All of a sudden there was a mixture of different races and religious groups that presented itself to the indigenous population. This was where stereotypes emerged since they perceived the new entrants as intruders. (Dunbar, 1997) The epitome of these negative perceptions was seen in the formation of the Ku Klux Klan. Jews were the main victims as members of the former group considered them as an inferior race that should be eliminated. These ideas were also present among other members of society although they were not depicted as openly and inhumanly as the former group did. Passage of the immigration law
There were many complaints that had been registered by Asian immigrants and Latin Americans. They claimed that there was preferential treatment by authorities. They asserted that European immigrants were allowed to bring over their families from their native land such that they could reunite but this did not apply to the former group. Therefore, in the year 1965, the government passed an immigration law. It allowed the latter immigrant groups to bring their families into the United States such that they could be reunited. This was the reason why there was such a large influx of Latin American and Hispanic immigrants around that time.
Open racial hostilities and misunderstandings Cases of racial hostilities were higher fifty years ago than they are now. The main reason for such trends could probably be because most of the immigrant populations were unknown to local residents. Most of them regarded them as intruders. Some natives felt insecure about them because they assumed that such influxes will bring serious competition for jobs. They were also worried that interactions with immigrants will break the social cohesiveness that had previously existed. Cases of the Chinese, Hispanics and Latinos being victims of racial hatred were high.
The African American population had been around for sometime and opportunities were now emerging. This period characterized the point at which many African Americans started entering institutions of higher learning. Others were able to penetrate certain social circles that they had previously not been allowed. Despite all these positive changes, there were still instances when groups who were not familiar with them would instigate violence. Racially related crimes like destroying property owned by minorities or beating up blacks were still prevalent. Economic status of immigrants
Before the 1965 immigration law had been passed, most of the immigrants were considered as successful members of society. They had achieved high levels of education and jobs were widely accessible. Consequently, their household incomes were quite lucrative and most of them had the ability to own homes or other forms of property. However after the law, there was very little discretion in terms of who entered the country. In the 1970s, such immigrants were young in age and had not reached college level. With their poor educational levels, most immigrant populations remained unemployed.
They also had very low chances of fending for themselves thus mainly depending on welfare. Most of these immigrant families actually lived below the poverty line. The concept of race currently Changes in demographic trends Previously, immigrant populations mainly constituted of African Americans and Europeans. But there has been a radical shift to other types of immigrants. Racial differences are no longer seen as issues between whites and blacks only.
The country’s census Bureau released the following results around six years ago • whites-74% • blacks-12% Hispanics-10% • Asians-3% It can already be seen that in some States, whites are no longer the dominant groups. For example in Hawaii, California and New Mexico, trends have already been reversed one cannot claim that there is an ethic group there boasting of domination. Failures to understand other races There is considerable evidence that most Americans do not understand each other. This is mostly brought out when two groups belong to different ethnicities. There is tendency to lump members of a certain racial group together even when they have very little in common.
For example, Koreans and the Japanese are usually treated as one and same group yet each group has their own identity. Formation of cliques Whenever one visits any high school, college, church or other social gatherings, it is a common phenomenon to find that people of certain ethnicities associate with members of their same group. The trend exists even among teenagers in high school or adults within more advanced social groups. Even institutions of higher learning have not escaped this trend because when one visits a certain University, there may be numerous student associations but most of them are formed along ethnic or racial lines.
The fact of the matter is that more and more minorities want to hold on to their cultures. This is regardless of whether or not an individual was born in America or not. Some teenagers, maybe third generational immigrants but still consider themselves as largely Hispanic, Asian or black. (Dunbar, 1997) By forming such groups, there have been limited interactions between members of different ethnicities. Consequently members of one ethnic group cannot develop to their full potential because there is no free flow of information. Another repercussion of such behavior is the emergence of specialized cultural expressions.
For example, there are types of music that are exclusive to the African American population and there are also certain types of movies that are limited to Latinos or Asians. This has limited cohesion within society and so many people still lack opportunities as a result of their racial associations. Economic and social limitations Most races have been associated with certain jobs or levels employment. The white majority are the ones who mainly hold senior positions within Companies. Fewer minorities fall in the upper status, most of them have been seen working in low paying jobs.
Others rely solely on welfare to feed their families. Even certain residential areas are associated with particular ethnic communities. The concept has been stretched to include States. Statistics show that in the year 1999, there were about six percent more immigrants than natives relying on welfare. This was especially synonymous with certain groups such as Salvadorans and Cambodians. These economic limitations have brought about more seclusion of minority groups and more and more ethnicities stick to themselves.
In the year 2000, the following data was collected New York- two fifth of the population do not speak English at home fifty percent do not know English well Miami- seventy five percent of the population do not speak English at home -sixty seven percent do not know English well Sometimes, local culture is to blame for these imbalances in the social and economic setting. When immigrants enter the American population, there is lack of comprehensive structure to orient them into the American culture. Lack of economic empowerment among minority groups has also led to criminal tendencies among some of them. For example there are many criminal activities usually recorded in areas that are predominantly African American.
Such cases have led to increased dissociation by members of the dominant white race. Some stereotypes among members of the white race assume that all black Americans may be potential criminals. However, this trend is slowly changing as some black families have become economically empowered. This point has been further emphasized by powerful positions that some blacks such as Condoleezza Rice hold. (Zimmerman, 1992) The concept of race in the future Lack of cohesiveness Some demographers believe that America will become represented by almost if not all races in the world.
These people will all be identified as American and the country will serve as an example of what racial tolerance and integration is all about. However, some experts have been a bit negative in their predictions. They have claimed that the US is going to develop into a country that has too many fragments. This implies that there will be lack of common ideals between any two communities. These demographers have argued that the trend can be predicted from the present observations. They also claim that there will be minimal national identity and unity because the country will be composed of too many diverse cultures.
However, such a view point may not necessarily be true because there are many countries in Africa especially in the continents of Asia and Africa that have so many ethnic groups but have managed to identify themselves with a particular country. Others have also claimed that increased immigrations and diverse racial groups will favor the rise of capitalism and other principle values. In addition, they claim that this will only be limited to the overall country; such people claim that there will be fewer interactions between members of different ethnicities. (Fein & Spencer, 1997)