WASHINGTON, August 28, 2013 — America is the greatest country in the world for welcoming those from other cultures to live and assimilate into American society. However, assimilation does not mean tossing aside one’s native culture. America offers the freedom to express one’s culture, religion and traditions but not to impose them on a well-established culture known as the American culture, born by our forefathers centuries ago.
America is a nation of immigrants, yes, but historically, immigrants have assimilated into American culture successfully. For example, the then rejected Irish and Italians from the turn of the 20th century are now unsegregated and maintain their pride and practice of culture freely.
In the 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. famous “I Have a Dream” speech, this nation has come a long, long hard fought and relatively successful distance from 1963, and assimilation was and is key.
This means assimilation into the American culture by all peoples. We must melt in the same pot.
King spoke “There will be no rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted finally granted citizenship rights.” Those rights were granted not long after King’s death.
In that year of his ‘Dream’ speech,1963, black Americans had no rights to speak of. Blacks had separate water fountains, rest rooms, little job opportunities and no chance for advancement. Today, a short 50 years later and 48 years after such rights were achieved, America has a black president, Supreme Court judge, senators, congressman/congresswoman, judges, lawyers, doctors etc. These achievements are a testament to American assimilation and dedication to equality.
Martin Luther King Jr. did not specify when his dream would be fulfilled but it has succeeded to the extent no other country would work so hard to fulfill. In his speech he declared “The Negro is still not free” Freedom and equal civil rights came two years after his speech.
Today, no one speaks so much of the Emancipation Proclamation but speaks of job opportunities, living in choice neighborhoods, purchasing whatever they wish and living in the cascading waters of freedom that were ripples of potential just 50 years ago.
Does this mean racism does not exist? Racism does exist, but why? Many psychologists will say it is not so much a culture, race or religion that scares some folks but one singular word that brings forth misunderstanding and that word is difference. The unknown scares people and people are foreigners to that which is foreign to them. People tend to react with fear and defensive posturing.
King spoke of the “Manacles of segregation” but now those manacles are broken. Yet restraints from racism still exists in many ways.
However, with each passing generation, racism becomes less acceptable. Those who today practice racism are rapidly being ostracized from society. Even those who practiced racism in the 60’s via violence are still today being prosecuted and sentenced for their crimes.
What other country does this? What other country has a Statue of Liberty to welcome other cultures? All this country asks is for everyone to behave and observe law and order. The rest is up to those who take freedom as granted, not a given.
History has shown that when assimilation is successful, the fear factor is reduced and what was foreign becomes known, expected and in most cases, accepted. At this point, assimilation rears it’s pretty head.
In America’s history, millions have given their lives to protect the culture of America and in recent wars and war-like events, those who perish or are afflicted by the horror of battle have names that are not American in source. Tombstones and medical charts read with names such as Martinez, Trevino, Jung, Wong and so forth. These names are also a testament to American assimilation.
Many come to America for freedoms and opportunities not offered in their place of origin and are, by law and moral right, allowed to practice their own culture without imposing on the culture and beliefs of others creating what is known as a ‘melting pot’ or a potpourri of humanity.
Unlike other countries such as Nigeria that has 250 different cultures in and out fighting one another resulting in an existence of violence and corrupt government, America strives to create the melting pot society by teaching English to those who do not understand it or speak it and offering classes and workshops to help with successful assimilation.
Our Pledge of Allegiance’ claims “Freedom and justice for all” as an ideology, not law and will take more passing of generations to achieve. Not all cultures are antagonistic to Western culture but those that are need not apply.
Those who claim allegiance to the American system when they are awarded citizenship should have truly embraced the promises America offers yet be free to maintain their own culture in a non-intrusive fashion and be proud to be what they came here to be-American.
America offers freedom of speech to discuss, discourse, opine and resolve not to incite intrusion and violence and this requires assimilation to eliminate differences, bring together cultural traditions and racial indifference with the realization that folks all wish for the same: to live free, to achieve their best and provide for their loved ones. America is the best country on the globe to live in and achieve these goals via work and education.
Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud of the levels of achievement his efforts and dreams helped create as people from within America and those who come here for whatever reason such as freedom, better levels of living or education, will be accepted into American mainstream via assimilation.
This is one of our nation’s greatest humanitarian achievements; acceptance of others to strive freely for their personal goals.
Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud of the result of his dream of America. Besides, where else in the world can you buy a real cowboy hat and watch Country Music Television with black country musicians to boot?
One must think Dr. King would get a most approving chuckle at these turn of events.
Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and psychotherapist.
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