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Month: October 2020

Carly 9/5 Post

There are many stereotypes and negative connotations that come along with the term “immigrant.” However, today immigrants are all around us whether we know it or not. Many immigrants traveled long and far and endured a lot of pain and hardships to get to their new home. I believe it is time we start accepting them and welcoming them into our communities. I respect the way Gloria Anzaldua sticks up for herself and other hispanic immigrants. She states, “if you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity–I am my language. Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself. Until I can accept as legitimate Chicano Texas Spanish, Tex Mex, and all the other languages I speak, I cannot accept the legitimacy of myself.” Language is an important part of someone’s identity, and because of Gloria’s mixed-cultural background she feels that she is judged just for being herself. 

In the two chapters in “How The Other Half Lives” by Jacob Riis, we are given examples from Italian and Chinese immigrants about the way they live as immigrants in the United States. They endure so many stereotypes and harsh living conditions just because of their immigrant status. I believe these negative connotations of immigrants have direct correlation to imperialism. Americans look at themselves as far more superior than others no matter where they come from. The fact that immigration into America has only gotten harder and more complex over time proves that Americans feel that they are simply better than other ethnicities and don’t want to accept change. Personally, I believe Americans need to accept change and be more inviting to other perspectives and cultures because it could certainly have a positive effect on our country.

 

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Margot Roussels Blog Post 10/5

I am cannot help but think about how the multiple parts of Gloria Anzaldúa’s identities intersect. Ever since learning about intersectionality and how the different parts of our identities overlap rather than add together to create how we see the world, I have been applying to my everyday life. I have been thinking about how my identities intersect and it has quickly become complicated to think about. In these excerpts from Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza Gloria Anzaldúa seems to be struggling with the same thing.
She is frequently thinking about how she doesn’t quite know what to call herself because she is Mexican, Spanish, and American, while also having Indian and Black roots. She also talks about what it means to be Hispanic vs Chicano. She seems recognizes how hard it is to properly acknowledge and respect all the different and sometimes conflicting parts of her identity. She said, “we know we are more than nothing; we call ourselves Mexican, referring to race and ancestry; mestizo when affirming both our Indian and Spanish (but we hardly ever own our Black ancestry)” She talks about how her identity is constantly changing depending on who she is talking to, but despite this they have persisted. Even though her culture had been warped and beaten down by the predominantly white culture of North America, she has not lost her language or her culture. It is a powerful message of persistence, but I hope in the future it will not be this hard. I hope North American culture becomes more accepting and celebratory of other cultures.

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Jeffrey Sprung Blog Post for 10/5

The excerpts from Gloria Anzaldúa’s “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza,” highlights the identity struggle that minorities in the United States face when attempting to assimilate to United States culture. Gloria Anzaldúa, provides a firsthand, personal account of the hardships she experiences due to her Chicana identity, which was very difficult to learn about. In the excerpt “Linguistic Terrorism,” Anzaldúa stresses the importance of her language in the makeup of her identity as she states that  “I am my language” and claims that “if you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language.” Since I have never lived in a different country before, I never fully realized the immense conflict that people face due to language barriers and differences. I am very fortunate that I am able to speak and understand English, the primary language in the United States and the rest of the world, as it would be an immense challenge and a huge discomfort to not be able to communicate easily with others. In the second and third excerpts, Anzaldúa expands on the struggles she endures as a Chicana women in the United States as she explains that “Chicanos and other people of color suffer economically for not acculturating” and that “In the Borderlands, you are at home, a stranger…” It is very unfortunate that Anzaldúa and the Chicano people have to deal with these issues due to their cultural differences in comparison to culture in the United States. The people of the United States need to be aware of the hardships that minority groups face in order to become a more inclusive and prosperous culture.

The chapters within Jacob Riis’ “How The Other Half Lives” further illustrated the unfair issues immigrants face when moving to the United States. Riis explains that Italian and Chinese immigrants engage in activities, such as gambling and doing drugs, in order to mitigate the stress of their problems when immigrating to the United States. It is very sad that Italian and Chinese immigrants have to turn to gambling and drugs in order to handle the stress that they experience as their actions only worsen their identity struggles as people living in the United States perceive them as problematic.

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Delaney Demaret Blog Post for 10/5

While the two chapters in How the Other Half Lives feature extremely problematic viewpoints on immigration and a dangerous amount of generalization of communities, a reader can use it in conjunction with other sources to draw conclusions on the political and economic climate of the time. For example, the chapter on Chinatown complains about the lack of typical family structure among Chinese immigrants in the city, yet in Dr. Bezio’s podcast, she notes that the government essentially banned Chinese women from immigrating with the Page Act of 1875. Here, a conclusion may be drawn on the active involvement of governmental authorities in harming immigrant communities. American policies on immigration face constant evolution, but I think it would be hard to find a time where preserving the togetherness of an immigrant family has been the ultimate priority. One piece of consistency in American immigration policy has been the idea of capitalist expansion and the exploitation of immigrant labor. 

In the chapter on the Italian-American immigrant community, a similar conclusion can be drawn in the way of government (this time local) involvement. The padrones and contractors worked with the city to effectively create a labor market that stifled the ability for Italian workers to participate in the aspects of a laissez-faire economy that could benefit them. They were pushed by contract policies that the city and ladrones worked together to make, into sections of the market that eliminated their access to worker resistance and wage competition. This effectively institutionalized immigrant poverty. Even worse, exploitation facilitated through the language barrier continued through generations of Italian-American families, creating a cycle of inopportunity. 

I think there is a reckoning to be had on what the sentiment of American Immigration policy is versus what the true priorities behind the structure are. The history of exploitation of immigrant communities in the labor markets is too strong to ignore and place behind the “melting pot” theory. Is there a time in the history of the United States where the paramount interest behind immigration structures was not to advance capitalistic expansion? 

 

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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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Post for 10/4

Reading through Gloria Anzaldúa’s excerpts made me think that no matter who we are or where we come from, we will have this idea that if something is different, then it is bad simply because it is not us. I wish that this wasn’t true, but stories like this prove that this is. Her stories about outwardly speaking Spanish stuck out to me because I see a lot of these problems from an outside perspective. For my friends who speak Spanish, they feel that when they speak Spanish around English speakers, they are being judged for not speaking the same language, or for their heavy accent when they do speak English. It is so much of a problem for some of them that they don’t even feel comfortable speaking it at home either. The fact that many people feel this way is a problem. It’s not just about Spanish speakers, what about the many other languages that people speak in the U.S.? I am sure that this is something that they feel as well. This can be very damaging because smaller problems can snowball into bigger ones. If one generation within a family doesn’t feel comfortable learning their native language and they grow up not passing it onto the next generation, then that as an aspect of culture that is slowly being washed away from a family tree.

 

I think this problem originated with imperialism in the Americas. Although the history of the Americas is not the first example of imperialism, identity mattered the most then and that is why it matters so much now. The three parts of identity that mattered the most were your race, gender, and economic status because those were telling factors of the life you were going to live. As time went on, these problems were only perpetuated further and made things worse. The fact that differences amongst people were used as a tool to advance other people, its something we can’t let go of and is the basis of many problems in our country today. If differences between cultures were embraced years ago, it would be a much different story. Do you think that this is something we will ever be able to change? I really do think that the way our country was founded and progressed is the reason why we automatically think that anything different or new to us is either a bad thing or something we can use to advance ourselves. We are wired to think this way. Can we rewire our way of thinking to do the exact opposite? Beyond recognizing and addressing it as a problem, can we ever naturally assume the difference is a good thing?

 

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In Chapters V and IX of Jacob A. Riis’s How the Other Half Lives, the reader is given insight into the anti-immigration sentiments of late-19th Century America. This is first demonstrated by impressions of Italian immigrants offered in Chapter V. The author describes poor conditions for Italian immigrants in both residential and vocational pursuits, settling for unfair contracts with tenants and low-paying jobs where they’re unable to receive the entirety of their earned wages. This is reminiscent of earlier depictions of colonial indentured servitude; in both cases, the U.S. was advertised as a country of grand opportunity but turned out to welcome new populations in states of oppression. Riis goes on to attribute Italians’ agreements to adverse conditions to a certain ignorance inherent to their ethnicity, explaining that they are unable to learn English as successfully as other immigrants and that they are therefore of inferior intelligence. This perpetuates the notion of American linguistic imperialism and the sentiment that cultures speaking other languages are inferior to those that speak English. Riis later describes Italians as being driven by political impulse rather than civility, characterizing them as less socially advanced than the desirable English-American standard.

Chapter IX focuses on negative sentiments toward Chinese immigrants. Similarly to the devaluation of Italians because of their inability to speak English, Riis insults Chinese immigrants for being unwilling to convert to Christianity, thus exercising a sense of superiority in another aspect of English-American culture, religion. He goes on to denounce the reserved appearances of Chinese neighborhoods as dreary and lacking of spectacle-like scenery, asserting an orientalist notion that Eastern cultures exist to please people of European origin as viewers and can be viewed as inferior when they fail to do so. Riis marvels at Chinese men’s tendency of cleanliness and subsequent prominence within the domestic sphere, relating it to what he perceives as weak submissiveness to women in other areas of life, establishing a sense of English-American cultural superiority through gender roles. He further portrays Chinese men as sexual predators, suggesting that young girls are “wrecked” by Chinese communities while visiting their “dens.” Finally, Riis illustrates Chinese immigrants’ reserved nature as suspicious due to their “menacing” contributions to society and asserts that the Chinese population can’t safely be left alone. Overall, Riis summarizes the Chinese population as undesirable to society because of its lack of “useful purpose,” asserting the imperialist notion that immigrants are only worthy of human value if they are able to offer vocational value.

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Christopher Wilson’s Blog Post 10/03

After listening to Dr. Bezio’s podcast regarding the relationship the U.S. has with immigrants, I feel frustrated that I do not know how diversity and the representation thereof will look like in the future. Anzaldua’s excerpts from Borderlands points out how aggressive assimilation into the white, English-speaking culture of the U.S. can lead to the erasure of ethnic tongues and people, which many African Americans have already experienced as a result of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Also, Anzaldua stresses that the key to fostering a healthy “melting pot” is for both the dominant culture and the other minority cultures to work towards cross-cultural communication and collaboration. In cross-cultural communication and collaboration, both groups of people have to learn a language that is different from the one they commonly speak at home. For instance, a person who speaks English 100% of the time should actively listen and learn how to understand Spanish and vice versa. Additionally, I do acknowledge that there are shortcomings in achieving cross-cultural communication and collaboration. The primary hurdle being that how Southern black people speak English is going to be radically different from how Western black people speak English. In this sense, is it realistic for our society to educate the entire human population in many languages that differ from their native tongue?

On another note, I am happy to hear the truth behind the value immigrants bring to our society. One, immigrants who become entrepreneurs in the U.S. create jobs and contribute to the American economy. Two, immigrants take jobs that most of us born in America feel too privileged to even consider. If we look at the work that janitors to factory workers have to do daily at low wage rates, especially amid COVID-19, they actually play a vital role in making sure that our workspaces are correctly cleaned and that our manufactured items are crafted with care. In response, there are actions that our society can take to address the images that the federal government and the media use to portray immigrants. The first step: all of us need to stop assuming that the actions or responses of one individual wholly translates to the experiences of all. Instead, we need to create a system of cultural and ethnic close-reading so that we can understand and better serve our immigrants who come to this country in hopes of achieving the idyllic American Dream.

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Alex OLoughlin Blog Post 10/5

The readings and podcasts focused on immigration, something very relevant in today’s society. As Dr. Bezio spoke of the unsubstantiated fears and biases that surround immigration, Gloria Anzaldúa and Jacob Riis’s works provided testimony and example. America still holds on to the idea of being a melting pot, but the actions we have taken against immigration says otherwise. America has made the process of immigration very difficult and placed restrictions on who is even eligible to apply. We claim that we are open to everyone, but then prevent an easily accessible way to immigrate.

Immigration comes with negative stereotypes. People associated certain races with bad characteristics that gave them an excuse to fear and discriminate when in reality, this fear was completely unfounded and wrong. In the same way Americans use the job excuse as a reason to restrict immigration. As the podcast mentioned, the opposite is true.

A focal point of immigration is tied to “The American Dream”. Oxford languages defines “The American Dream”  as, “the ideal by which equality of opportunity is available to any American, allowing the highest aspirations and goals to be achieved.” It is supposed to be obtainable to all that come to America, a reality that does not seem true. Gloria Anzaldúa describes the identity crisis that burdens her life. Jacob Riis illustrates the harsh conditions that immigrants faced, specifically in New York City, which disadvantaged them and kept them in a system where it was hard to break free. They didn’t have equal opportunities to achieve all there dreams. They had to deal with poverty and conditions that kept them struggling to stay afloat. This makes me wonder if the American dream is something that is actually obtainable to all or restricted. America has restricted immigration and made it very difficult. Once it is achieved, there are still internal biases that threaten people’s cultural identity and ability to succeed. People should not feel targeted by their language or their heritage or their cultural identity? So I am wondering, is the American dream just that, a dream?

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Charley Blount Blog Post (10/5)

Jacob Riis’s book, How the Other Half Lives, paints a bleak picture of a New York City that is riddled with poverty and corruption, which contributed to a negligent tenement housing system in the 1880s. It is obvious that this book was written in the nineteenth century, as much of the language used to describe Italians and Chinatown in New York City is influenced by stereotypes and generalizations. For example, when describing people who live in Chinatown, Riis says, “It is doubtful if there is anything he does not turn to a paying account, from his religion down, or up, as one prefers” (Riis 17). Despite the cultural and racial stereotypes of the book, Riis’s critiques of the broken housing system in New York City were justified. More importantly, Riis discussed a problem that affected a large portion of the city, but was ignored by many New Yorkers. Before the great riot of 1863, “it was said that ‘one half of the world does not know how the other half lives’… The half that was on top cared little for the struggles, and less for the fate of those who were underneath” (11). This ignorance began to change in the advent of muckraking, when journalists began reporting on uncovered stories of corruption and negligence of the lower classes. 

Unfortunately, the problems that Riis discussed have not gone away, even though people began to talk about them. Riis argued that “the remedy that shall be an effective answer to the coming appeal for justice must proceed from the public conscience. Neither legislation nor charity can cover the ground. The greed of capital that wrought the evil must undo itself, as far as it can now be undone” (12). Riis identified capitalism as the problem that was central to New York’s housing crisis; he believed that anything short of changing this system was insufficient. One hundred years later, cities across the country continue to face housing crises such as eviction and poor public housing quality. Whether Riis’ proposed solution was correct is unknown, but his identification of the problem was certainly correct, and it still persists today.

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Zachary Andrews Blog Post 10/5

When I read both Chapter V and Chapter IX from How the Other Half Lives, I was saddened by the things that Americans did and the way that they viewed immigrants. Unfortunately, I can’t say that everything I read was new information to me. I always knew that there was bias and discrimination against immigrants but I never truly understood the extent that those biases went to. After reading Chapter V which talks about Italian immigrants in America, I was disgusted by the way Americans treated them and classified them. The book described them, the Italians, as reluctant towards Americanizing. The chapter described that the Italians were not eager to adopt the English language whereas some of the other immigrants from nations like Poland and Germany adopted the language right away. They also talked about how the Italians were, generally speaking, liars and gamblers and we considered to be the lowest of lows in society. Chapter IX, on the other hand, talked about the Chinese immigrants that lived in the United States. The chapter talked about the dark, damp, dirty, and crowded Chinatown’s’ that were formed in cities across the United States. These towns were described to have a lot of messages and such regarding drug use and opium. The chapter also tells us that the Chinese immigrants, like the Italian immigrants, were reluctant to change their ways. More specifically, they were reluctant to adopt a new religion and change their clothes. Americans wanted the Chinese immigrants that were scattered across the nation to Americanize and convert to Christianity.

 

The excerpts that we read from Borderlands were very upsetting as well. It was very upsetting to read that people from the Latin community are being criticized for speaking their own language. A person or group of people should not feel oppressed or concerned about speaking their own language. They have the right to speak their language where they want, and when they want. Others who might not understand the language should not feel frightened/threatened if they hear someone speaking another language. A quote that resonated within me from the excerpts was, “Attacks on our native tongue diminish our sense of self.” This was heartbreaking to read. People should feel comfortable speaking their own language and simply being in their own skin when around others. They should not been attacked constantly by others who don’t even know that person. It is truly horrible to see that Americans are forcing other cultural communities to Americanize. People should have the freedom to do what they want without thinking about if they are going to be attacked by the general public.

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Julia Borger Blog Post 10/4

I thought the reading “From Borderlands/La Frontera” by Gloria Analdua was extremely powerful and eye opening. I had no idea that some of the different sectors of the Spanish language were considered illegitimate. As I was raised speaking English in the United States my entire life, I have realized how easy it has been for me- to speak the most universal language in the world without second thought. Language is such an important part of culture and identity, and to have one’s language categorized as “wrong” is unbelievable. I think a major problem with our world today is not recognizing smaller languages, as we believe everyone should have to learn English or Chinese or Spanish, and we just gloss over the other languages. I am worried about the effect this will have on the future, as elements that made a specific group unique and special are erased, and people become more and more similar until whole cultures are ultimately eliminated. In addition, from the reading I was inspired by Gloria’s tone and outlook on the topic in general. Although she acknowledges that she did experience adversity with her identity and language, she states she will not let this get to her as she claims, “I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing. I will have my voice. Indian, Spanish, white….I will overcome the tradition of silence.” I think this empowerment is very influential for every audience reading- those who can relate to what she is saying, and those who are having their perspectives enlightened for the first time on the topic.

I was also struck by the “How The Other Half Lives” chapters for many reasons. It really made me think about the concept of immigration for the past, present, and future of America. The fact that immigration is such a controversial and difficult subject today, when none of us would be here if we did not have immigration to the United States back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, is very concerning. How can we keep calling ourselves a “Melting Pot” when there is nothing in the pot?

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Julia Leonardi // 10.05.2020

As a Latina woman myself, I found Anzaldúa’s work very personal. She speaks of the struggles of being a Hispanic-American and not knowing or having much of an identity. I have found myself in similar thoughts throughout my life. I am too gringa for the people in my homeland, but too Latina for the gringos. This is something I have discussed with my Hispanic-American friends. It is a struggle that most of us face. Living inside your culture in a different country’s culture can be very difficult, confusing, and frightening.

Anzaldúa mentions immigration patrol, which is a fear and a huge reality within the community. Today we live in a social climate where being by simply being part of the Latinx community, people assume that you’re a rapist, drug dealer, exploiter, and illegal. It is a sad bias and what’s even sadder is seeing the President of the United States reinforce those ideas. Whenever I tell people I am from Latin America, the first question I get is: But you’re a legal resident, right? I find that question to be completely inappropriate because it is simply none of anyone’s business, but also it is rude to just ask that. It is so rare to see that question being asked of European immigrants or even Asian immigrants. There is this idea that all Latinx people are immigrants and illegal immigrants at that. Because of that idea, most Hispanics live in constant fear of ICE and the government in jail. Your grandma, your uncle, or even your parents can be taken away from you and sent away forever at any moment. Immigration is also a silent argument because the only people who have a say are the citizens, and citizenship often takes ten+ years to achieve. Hence, people live silent and in fear until they can get a piece of paper that will make them be seen as humans and worthy of fair treatment.

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Blog Post 10/05- Kayla O’Connell

When reading How The Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis, I was immediately appalled by the way he spoke of both Italian and Chinese immigrants. In “Chapter V”, Riis outlines his different opinions on Italian immigrants. He characterizes them as attention cravers, illiterate and hot-headed. He claims that the slums welcome them as tenants and Italians will “eat his meals under the dump, on the edge of slimy depths and amidst surroundings full of unutterable horror”(52). Throughout the entire chapter Riis only listed out a variety of stereotypes, insults, and back-handed compliments. In “Chapter IX”, Riis once again outlines his unwanted opinions on the Chinese in Chinatown. He claims that the Chinese lack a handle of strong faith, are weak, and both stealthy and secretive. Riis even goes so far to say that Chinese immigrants serve no useful purpose to the United States and therefore we “must make the best of them”. I was disgusted to read the utter amount of disrespect that he had for these Chinese immigrants. 

 It’s truly sad to see that these immigrants were treated differently all because they wanted new and better opportunities for themselves and their families. They shouldn’t have to deal with the alienation and rude insults from other citizens in the United States. To this day, a large percentage of the United States population refuses to accept immigrants. We ignore the fact that they are humans and are craving a better life. We are so quick to judge individuals who are not like us. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and equality. Although the general perspective on immigration has improved, I wonder when this concept will be accepted by all. The topic of immigration continues to be a touchy subject for the U.S. and I wonder how policy will change in the future.

 

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Blog Post 10/5

After reading the chapters from How the Other Half Lives and the exerpts from Boderlands/La Frontera I realized how tough it is to succeed in our country, especially if you are a minority. Immigrants already have to take a huge risk by leaving our country and starting over in a foreign place, but they also often have to deal with poor living conditions. Not to mention the prejudice they recieve from stereotypes can make becoming accustomed to a new country almost impossible.

Arguably the most intimidating of all is the “unwritten law” to either conform or get out. What I mean by this is the harsh reality that many cultures face in the United States. Despite our countires diversity, there are still many examples of “white washing” going on everyday. The pressure to assimilate is real. This can come in the form of speaking English, or following certain traditions other than those of a person’s original culture. Although our country prides itself on being accepting of all diffeent types of people, this is not always the case.

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