The cultural differences between Mexican Americans and the dominant society can be very closely compared to the differences between the Native Americans and dominant group.

  1. Marta Kakol Week 5

    COLLAPSE

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    Question 1

    The cultural differences between Mexican Americans and the dominant society can be very closely compared to the differences between the Native Americans and dominant group. Mexican Americans were a lot more family oriented than the white Americans which caused them to not place as much focus on succeeding as individuals, which was a value that was very important to the dominant group. Machismo, which is a value system that stresses certain attitudes and beliefs about male masculinity, was a big cultural difference that separated the Mexican Americans from white Americans. Many Mexican men expressed this value by being an exceptional provider and for example refusing to take days off from work in order to ensure his family was well taken care of. The dominant society however emphasized only negative thoughts they had about this value system. They viewed Machismo as a mindset Mexican men used to oppress women.

    The difference of religion between the groups also played a part in their relationship. While the dominant population was mostly made up of Protestants, majority of Mexican Americans were Catholics. They also had different ways of practicing their religions; Protestants were more church-going, and many Mexican Americans celebrated their religion in less conventional ways, such as festivals and dance. These cultural differences caused the dominant society to exclude Mexican Americans from their most parts of their society. “They supplied much of the labor power for the agricultural economy of their region and were limited to low-paying occupations and subordinate status in the social structure” (Healey and Stepnick 289). They exploited their hard-working mindset and used them to perform laborious work in exchange for very low pay. Similar to the Native and African Americans, Mexican Americans lacked the resources necessary to overpower the dominant group and had no choice but to succumb to their continuous attacks and demands.

     

    Question 2

    The experiences that Puerto Ricans and Cuban Americans had emigrating into the United States was unique in that both groups were, in a way, more welcome than other minority groups. Puerto Rico became a territory of the U.S in 1898 and its people made citizens of the U.S in 1917, which made their move to the mainland much less complicated than other minorities. Puerto Ricans also did not begin to rapidly emigrate into the U.S until much later than other groups, therefore they avoided the more racist systems that used to be in place. “Because of their more recent arrival, Puerto Ricans on the mainland were not subjected to the more repressive paternalistic or rigid competitive systems of race relations such as slavery or Jim Crow” (Healey and Stepnick 307).

    Cuban emigration into the U.S did not become popular until the late 1950’s, when the Marxist Revolution brought Fidel Castro into power on the island. This new socialist Cuba made it difficult for businesspeople to run their businesses. Seeing as America was against Castro and his beliefs, they welcomed any Cuban refugees with open arms.  This highly preferential treatment was due to the fact that these people were already known business owners and elite in Cuba. As a result, they were not expected, like the other minority groups, to be coming into American to perform cheap labor.

     

    Questions 3 and 4

    A major characteristic of Asian Americans was their belief in managing their own self-image in order to please others. “Asian cultures stress the importance of maintaining the respect and good opinion of others and avoiding shame and public humiliation” (Healey and Stepnick 343). This value caused them to adapt to the practices and behaviors of their new society more easily than other groups in an attempt to escape any conflict. They sought acceptance within the larger society more than any other minority group and instead of challenging any prejudice or discrimination against them, they preferred to conform to the larger society in hopes to fit in.

    At first, they did not face much adversity because of a rapidly growing economy. Chinese immigrants were worshipped by business owners because of their work ethic. It was not until job opportunities began to decline that Americans began to see the Chinese immigrants as direct competition, therefore launching anti-Chinese campaigns in order to limit the competition for jobs. Chinese immigrants were forced to seek safety from the violence and discrimination they faced, so they created communities in cities known as Chinatowns. During World War II, Chinese Americans had a great opportunity to continue their education by serving in the war. This gave them the chance to compete with higher level jobs and get away from their traditional Chinatowns and assimilate into the larger society. This second generation of Chinese Americans contributed to the idea that Chinese Americans are a “model minority” in that many of them were able to achieve better jobs than the previous generation. The idea that Asian Americans are perceived as successful is not accurate when taking a look at the bigger picture. Although as a whole the group seems to stand up to the high standards that are stereotypically placed on them, taking a closer look and separating certain groups shows that not all groups are successful as others.

    Japanese immigrants faced very similar treatment from the dominant society when they first began emigrating into the U.S. Being the group to arrive later, the anti-Asian discrimination trickled down to them. This led to them creating an agricultural enclave called Issei. Although being a very small percentage of the population, the Issei did relatively well for themselves in areas like gardening and domestic services. Their success did not change the larger society’s negative feelings about them. The second generation of Japanese Americans called themselves Nisei, and despite being still unaccepted by Anglo society, they were much more Americanized than the previous generation and had values and interests that were more in line with the Americans. This group, similar to the second-generation Chinese Americans, was known for being better educated therefore able to compete for better jobs and integrate into the larger society more comfortably.

    When the first Cuban immigrants arrived in America, they did not face the same type of discrimination or difficulty as other minority groups. The majority of Cubans that were capable of escaping Castro’s reign were already successful businesspeople and of the elite class in Cuba. Therefore, they did not face as much of a struggle being successful in America, their businesses quickly integrated and competed with those of the larger society. The major difference between Cuban enclaves versus those of other minorities was that Cubans were able to achieve success in their jobs without relying on conforming the American ways. Most Cubans were either self-employed or worked for other Cubans.

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    Guy Parkin 

    DB #5 – Guy Parkin

    COLLAPSE

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    Question 1.

    There are many important cultural differences between Mexican Americans and the dominant society that helped to shape that relationships between the two groups. One difference in particular is the in denominations of Christianity each group practices. “Whereas the dominant society is largely Protestant, the overwhelming majority of Mexican Americans are Catholic, and the church remains one of the most important institutions in any Mexican American community” (290). This difference is very important to note, as even a difference in denomination of the same religion can cause conflict between the two groups and shape the way they interact with one another. In addition to this, the religious practices between the two groups also differ. Mexican Americans (predominately men) are relatively inactive in church attendance but instead prefer to express their concerns and devotions in more spontaneous ways, similar to Italian culture. Another important cultural difference between the two groups is the value placed on the individual versus family relations. “Compared with Anglo Americans, Mexican Americans tend to place more value on family relations and obligations. Strong family ties can be the basis for support networks and cooperative efforts but can also conflict with the emphasis on individualism and individual success in the dominant culture” (290). While in the dominant society, there is much more emphasis on the individual and following one’s own conscience, in Mexican American culture there is a greater value on the relations with family which can lead to the creation of communal networks that can help one another. These cultural differences, coupled with the language barrier have greatly shaped the relationships between the two groups, with the dominant society using these differences as justification for the exclusion of Mexican Americans from the larger society.

    Question 2.

    The experiences of Puerto Ricans and Cuban Americans are very unique when compared with those of other minority groups and their relationship with the dominant society. Puerto Rico becoming a territory of the United States greatly helped Puerto Ricans avoid many of the adversities and discrimination other minority groups faced during the time. “Puerto Ricans became citizens of the United States in 1917, so their movements were not impeded by international boundaries or immigration restrictions” (304). Unlike the Chinese Exclusion Act, Puerto Ricans were not barred from the immigration restrictions that affected many different minority groups. When the middle and upper classes lost political power in Cuba due to the rise in power of Fidel Castro, it became extremely hard for Cuban capitalists to continue their businesses operations within their homeland. “The first Cuban immigrants to the United States tended to come from the more elite classes and included affluent and powerful people who controlled many resources. They were perceived as refugees from Communist persecution and were warmly received by the government and the American public” (308). Similar to the experience of Puerto Ricans immigrants, Cuban Americans arrived at the United States in an already much better position than many other minority groups of the time that faced constant discrimination from both the government and public. These differences reflect the fact that the initial contact between the dominant society and minority group can greatly impact the relationship between the two groups going forward, setting a precedent for their treatment and future interactions.

    Question 3.

    There are many cultural characteristics of Asian American groups that have helped to shape their behavior and relationships with the larger society. One characteristic in particular is the emphasis on the collective group over the individual which directly stems from Confucianism, the dominant ethical and moral system in traditional China and many other Asian cultures. “Confucianism emphasizes loyalty to the group, conformity to societal expectations, and respect for one’s superiors” (342). While in traditional China and other Asian societies, business was organized around relations with family and other relatives, as opposed to Anglo American culture where much more value is placed on the individual and one’s pursuit of a better life for solely themselves. Another characteristic is the importance of avoiding public embarrassment, not giving offense and saving face. “In Western cultures, individuals are encouraged to develop and abide by a conscience, or an inner moral voice, and behavior is guided by one’s personal sense of guilt. In contrast, Asian cultures stress the importance of maintaining the respect and good opinion of others and avoiding shame and public humiliation” (343). This helped to shape the relationships with the larger society as Asian Americans used this belief system to cope with the racism, discrimination and rejection they faced. Parents would pressure their kids into conforming to white expectations in hopes that their success would protect them from the discrimination so many minority groups faced. These characteristics contribute to the perception of Asian Americans as “successful” as the emphasis on the group over the individual directly correlate with the creation of self-sufficient ethnic enclaves such as Chinatown and Issei. Having this group-oriented belief system only continued to help expand their enclaves, eventually becoming the economic, cultural and social centers of their community.

    Question 4.

    The contact situations for Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans and Cuban Americans share many similarities and differences. “Chinese immigrants were “pushed” to leave their homeland by the disruption of traditional social relations caused by the colonization of much of China by more industrialized European nations and by rapid population growth” (345). This contact situation is very similar to that of the Cuban Americans, who were pushed out of Cuba as the revolution made it impossible to continue their businesses. Japanese Americans, however, began contact after restrictions on immigration from other Asian groups were put into effect. “Immigration from Japan began to increase shortly after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 took effect, in part, to fill the gap in the labor supply created by the restrictive legislation” (351). One characteristic that was crucial in leading to the construction of ethnic enclaves was that the first wave brought with them considerable expertise in particular fields. For example, while Cuban Americans brought business expertise, Japanese Americans brought agricultural knowledge. In addition to this, the common desire to practice old traditions and minimize contact with Anglo society was crucial in the construction of such self-sufficient ethnic enclaves. While overtime, Cuban-owned firms have become integrated within local economies and increasingly competitive with other firms, enclaves such as Chinatown have continued to remain as self-contained communities with their own leadership and decision-making structures separate from the surrounding neighborhoods.

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