Unnatural Causes: Becoming American

In this episode of Unnatural Causes, we learn about the health of immigrants and how moving to the United States influences their mental and physical health. On average Mexican immigrants have been healthier than the average American, where there have been lower rates of death, heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses. However, the health status that these immigrants after being in the United States for five years or more shows a negative effect on health. For example, immigrants who have lived in America for over five years have higher blood pressure and have a higher percentage of being obese than when they first arrived. The initial good health standing that many immigrants come to the United States with is often attributed in some part to their resilience, and the aspects of culture, tradition, and concept of close family networks and community social networks that they bring as well. These cultural aspects that many immigrants have create support and a kind of shield against the negative impacts of American culture. This shield does tend to get smaller as immigrants have children in the United States and generations of U.S. citizens are formed as these later generations did not experiences their true cultural roots and are more assimilated to western society.

Listening to this documentary made me think about how immigrants are often stereotyped and treated in the United States. For many Americans, it may not seem worth it to immigrate to the United States knowing the high rates of poverty and negative association many citizens have with foreigners. However, we discussed in class that people do not immigrate and find refuge in the United States for fun. Most times traveling to the United States is a decision made to escape and even worse situation. I cannot imagine the toll that traveling to the united states must have on one’s mental and physical health. This brings up an ideal that we have discussed in class about minorities and resiliency. Those apart of the majority population do not have to worry about (on the general level) being discriminated against or left out. It is possible that with privilege there is a distorted understanding of failure and struggle to bounce back from some form of suffering. While many of those in the minority like immigrants have had to face hardships from a young age and are therefore conditioned to be more resilient when problems do arise. Immigrating and living in the United States has proven to have negative mental and physical effects on health, however I believe this negative impact is lessened by the resiliency of the immigrant and minority populations.

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