Reading Response

Ethnicity and Race Nation

The invention of ethnicity was brought on by the American born whites, as a way to distinguish themselves from the ‘other’ or immigrants during a major immigration period to America. This is because it was thought that new immigrants would have an easy and rapid assimilation, based on theory assumptions. These assumptions include the ease in which Anglo-conformity transformed into the Melting Pot aesthetic of assimilation. The new wave of immigration though resisted and opposed this model and did so through language, cultural maintained though some traditional cultures do not remain unchanged. Even when they were born in America or conformed to all what was expected of them they were still not seen as fully American, called instead ‘ethnic Americans’ brought on by the 1960s ethnic movement. The 1960s ethnic movement was a way for a person to identify with a group. Defining ethnicity changes through the years and knowledge on immigrant studies. The first definition by Clifford Geertz and Harold Isaac defined ethnicity by basic group identification and a need for belonging. Others took a different interpretations like Herbert Gans who saw ethnicity as something doomed to fade away in the presence of American assimilation. It was Nathen Glazer and Daniel Moynihan who focus less on the cultural complications and more on common interest. They defined ethnicity as an interest group with means of mobilizing behind certain issues relating to socioeconomic positions. Overall the invention of ethnicity is seen as a cultural construct became people are constantly reinventing themselves in and out of America, no more seen as the passive immigrant but active ones. Post Revolution brought a need for the new nation to invent an identity that was separate from the British and uniquely them. In the 19th century, the invention of ethnicity also brought on the need to make an American identity to hold up to each immigrant and determine how American they were. First immigrants were marked with either positive or negative evaluations but to later they were more likely than not a negative because some Americans felt they were threat to political order. But only some immigrant groups were judged, not all and depending on the time period of immigration. This was easy to do with the availability of immigrant groups already existing.

In recent immigration studies though shows a lack of interest in Latino and Asian immigrants and how they are facing a new set of issues. These issues that they are facing are direct results of a change in immigration laws set by the United States. The 1960s not only brought an ethnic movement but also a shift in immigration in Latino and Asian countries with a rise in female immigrants. Race and  immigration play into each other because immigration studies was so largely focused on white ethnic immigrants for such a long time and how they assimilated into a culture that was already welcoming to them versus those who do not pass as white. Also their only mentions of nonwhite immigrants were forced immigration black slaves and how they were treated. The largest changes were the 1965 Immigration Act that changed the origin locations of immigrants and the emergence, growth, and maturity of scholarship of African American, Latinos and Asian Americans. Showing the importance of race in immigration and a shifting focus from ‘white studies’ on immigration. An example being the way in which Asian immigrants are viewed as not fully American no matter how many generations they go back in America. Also how problematic grouping a large and diverse area into one Asia and their treatment in America because of the relations between their origin countries and America. Most notably the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, followed with Asian Indians in 1917, Japanese in 1929, and Filipinos in 1934, supporting the culture of citizen is given to those who can correctly portray whiteness. Latino, specifically Mexican American, shows the way in which they were almost forgot about because what was needed from them was similar to that of Native Americans. Any act against them was not made until the mid-sixties, who more often than not migrated to other places and were also already in America long before the borders were drawn. Latino’s immigration issues were fairly late and brought on a large change to the ways in which Anglo-Americans viewed immigration and whiteness.