Cultural Pluralism in the United States

13 /Л ne of the critical questions facing the United States today is what role new

V»/ immigrants will play in their new country. To what degree will they choose to take on the traditional American values and culture? How much will they try to maintain their own language and cultural traditions? Will they create an entirely new culture based on some combination of their values and those of the traditional American culture?

14Historically, although the children of immigrants may have grown up bilingual and bicultural, for a number of reasons many did not pass on their language and culture. Thus, many grandchildren of immigrants do not speak the language of the old country and are simply American by culture. However, in parts of the country with established communities that share a common language or culture, bilingualism[9] and biculturalism continue. This is particularly true in communities where new immigrants are still arriving. In California, for example, the test for a drivers license is given in thirty different languages. In general, cultural pluralism[10] is more accepted in the United States today than it was in the first half of the twentieth century, and many of the school systems have developed bilingual programs and multicultural curricula.

15 The census of 2000 recognized the increase in the diversity of the American

population. There were many racial and ethnic categories to choose from, and for the first time it was possible to select more than one category.*

Census 2000 Summary: Diversity of the American Population

Subject

Number

Percent

race

Total population

281.421,906

100.0

One race

274,595,678

97.6

White

211,460,626

75.1

Black or African-American

34,658,190

12.3

American Indian and Alaska Native

2,475,956

0.9

American Indian

1,865,118

0.7

Alaska Native

97,876

0.0

Both American Indian and Alaska Native

1.002

0.0

American Indian or Alaska Native, not specified

511,960

0.2

Asian

10,242,998

3.6

Asian Indian

1,678,765

0.6

Chinese

2,432,585

0.9

Filipino

1,850,314

0.7

Japanese

796,700

0.3

Korean

1,076,872

0.4

Vietnamese

1,122,528

0.4

Other Asian cateqory

1,061,646

0.4

Two or more Asian categories

223,588

0.1

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander

398,835

0.1

Native Hawaiian

140,652

0.0

Samoan

91,029

0.0

Guamanian or Chamorro

58,240

0.0

Other Pacific Islander category

99,996

0.0

Two or more Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander cateqories

8,918

0.0

Some other race

15,359,073

5.5

Two or more races

6,826,228

2.4

Two races indudinq Some other race

3,001,558

1.1

Two races exdudinq Some other race, and three or more races

3,824,670

1.4

Two races exdudinq Some other race

3,366,517

1.2

Three or more races

458,153

0.2

HispanIc or Latino

Total population

281,421,906

100.0

Hispanic or Latino (of any race)

35,305,818

12.5

Mexican

20,640,711

7.3

Puerto Rican

3,406,178

1.2

Cuban

1,241,685

0.4

Other Hispanic or Latino

10,017,244

3.6

Not Hispanic or Latino

246,116,088

87.5

Race and Hispanic or Latino

Total population

281,421,906

100.0

One race

274,595,678

97.6

Hispanic or Latino

33,081,736

11.8

Not Hispanic or Latino

241,513,942

85.8

Two or more races

6,826,228

2.4

Hispanic or Latino

2,224,082

0.8

Not Hispanic or Latino

4,602,146

1.6

Source: U. S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Summary File 1, Matrices P3, P4, PCT4, PCT5, PCT8, and PCT11.

16 On the one hand, many Americans try to maintain their ethnic heritage and their cultural rraditions. On the other hand, the number of interracial marriages is increasing, and the majority of young people believe it does not matter which race they marry. Some have called this the “Tiger Woods effect,” referring to the U. S. golfer who became at the same time the first African American and the first Asian American to win the Masters Golf Tournament. Tiger Woods says he is “Cablinasian”—a mixture of Caucasian (white), black, Indian, and Asian. By the middle of the century, the nation will probably no longer have a white majority; some say the color of most Americans will be more like beige, or light brown, as a result of the mixing of races and ethnic groups. Already, many of the nation’s largest cities are “majority minority.”

image007This means more than half of the population are members of minority groups.

17 In the United States, people have become very sensitive to the language used to describe racial and ethnic groups, and they try to be politically correct, or “P. C.”

For example, some black Americans prefer the term African-American instead of black to identify with their African heritage. The terms Native American and American Indian are both used by those native to the, North American continent. Some Spanish speakers prefer to be called Latinos (referring to Latin America) instead of Hispanics (referring to Spain), while others prefer to be identified by their country of origin (Cuban-American or Cuban, Chicano, Mexican-American or Mexican, etc.). Since the census uses a variety of terms, we will also use the terms white, Native American ox American Indian, black or African-American, and Hispanic or Latino.

18 In spite of all this diversity, there is still a tie that-binds Americans together. That tie is a sense of national identity—of being an American. Incidentally, when citizens of the United States refer to themselves as Americans, they have no intention of excluding people from Canada or Latin American countries as residents of the American continents. There is no term such as United Statesians in the English language, so people call themselves Americans. Thus, what is really a language problem has sometimes caused misunderstandings. Although citizens of Latin American countries may call the people in the United States North Americans, to many people in the United States this makes no sense either, because the term North American refers to Canadians and Mexicans as well as citizens of the United States. (NAFTA—the North American Free Trade Agreement, for example, is a trade agreement among Canada, the United States, and Mexico.) The word American, then, is used in this text as the nationality of the people who live in the United States of America.

Updated: 18th July 2015 — 3:16 pm