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Sam Hussey Blog Post 10/5

Today’s readings highlighting different ethnic groups in America left me thinking about the concept of identity. Gloria Anzaldúa’s excepts on being a Chicana in America and having a muddled identity is a true problem people face. In today’s globalized world, the ethnic groups of the past are intertwining and spreading out across the globe. Before the exploration of the new world in the sixteenth century, it was not uncommon to stay within twenty miles of your birthplace your whole life. Today, there have been dozens of ethnic migrations and identity is more ambiguous than ever before. Gloria Anzaldúa writes about being caught in the middle ground of identities, cast away from every individual ethnicity for not being of pure blood. Identity is one of the fundamental traits of being human. Being able to identify yourself with a group and a culture is very important for your sense of self-worth and self-esteem. When your mixed culture is looked down on by society, it can be very challenging. Language is a key component of identity and can be used to instantly discriminate against certain identities. The broken Spanish spoken by Chicanos can be separated from the Latino Spanish.

The chapters from How the Other Half Lives give stark accounts of the terrible lifestyles adopted by immigrants to America. The Italians were forced to work demeaning jobs for little pay and the Chinese ran small shops to try and make ends meet. Both communities were discriminated against for being immigrants and were treated differently by their neighbors. I found it interesting how both ethnic groups turned to addiction to help cope with their struggles of assimilating to a new culture and being ostracized by the people who they thought were accepting of others. The Italians turned to gambling while the Chinese turned to opium, both vices having considerable impacts on the communities. The communities were objectified as vile and degenerate because of the addiction problems and were stuck in a never-ending hole of being culturally inferior. When your identity is decided for you by outsiders, it Is challenging to break that mold. We see this today with urban black communities that are stereotyped as gang members and drug dealers by the outsiders. Because of the external pressure, many youths feel like they have to be like that because that is what they are viewed as. It can create a vicious cycle of poverty, addiction, and an identity crisis that is very difficult to break from.

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5 Comments

  1. Olivia Cosco Olivia Cosco

    I really like your point about how it’s hard to break a mold of your identity when it is predetermined for you. This reminds me of the class where we discussed stereotype threat and fixed mindsets. I think both of these theories play into why it is hard for Americans to break the cycle you discussed.

  2. Michael Childress Michael Childress

    I too thought that immigrants turning towards some sort of addiction is an interesting point. Often times, I feel like the common narrative is that minorities are more likely to engage in behaviors such as drinking, gambling, or other types of drugs, but this reading gave me a different perspective as to why these minorities may revert to these activities. It’s a sort fo way out for them. Furthermore, since they are already disconnected, these activities can potentially form a new sense of community for these people, and they are willing to risk the adverse side effects of drugs or gambling in order to feel this sense of community.

  3. Henry Groves Henry Groves

    I also felt that it was interesting that these immigrants used addiction to help with the hardships of being an immigrant. People used these addictions that the immigrants have created to deal with the stress as a further way to discriminate towards them.

  4. Michael Stein Michael Stein

    It definitely is upsetting how our country creates repetitive systems of oppression that classify people and then force those same people to participate in activities that subjugate them. In the reading, Chinese and Italian immigrants’ association with drugs and gambling respectively are noted; however, if we apply the same systemic thinking to todays social issues we realize a similar, if not identical, pattern. Indeed, African Americans, especially African American men, face discrimination on the basis that they are dangerous. However, when the justice system is examined, this claim is more a result of rampant racial inequities and over-policed communities than of any reason cultural or racial.

  5. Thomas Bennett Thomas Bennett

    It is interesting to think about how the steam engine’s invention resulted in many positive quality of life increases, however it also had devastating effects. Not just in terms of pollution, but also in terms of humanitarianism. The whole colonization of Africa, with all its cruelty, was made possible by steam ships, and the whole industrial revolution was spurred by its invention. The Industrial Revolution made urban areas like New York City, disgusting to live not only because of pollution, but also because of how severely workers were underpaid and exploited to increase the profit margin. This exploitation resulted in the awful living conditions of immigrants in the early 20th century, whose immigration was in fact made possible by the steam engine.

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