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Arely Alvarez

Professor Batty

English 28

13 December 2018

To Assimilate or Not: A Choice that Many Immigrants Have to Make

Cultural assimilation has always been on the minds of immigrants coming to a new country.

Whether to assimilate to the new culture or not, can change the way that immigrants go through

living their lives in their new home. Many immigrants see assimilation as a double edged sword,

on one side making them feel alienated, and on the other side causing a feeling of guilt.However,

by immigrants fostering a blend of both their native and new culture together, they can find a

true identity in the best of both worlds.

There are many immigrants that believe that they have to make the decision to fully immerse

themselves into their new culture. If the immigrant are to assimilate, then they can feel more

welcomed into their new homes. In Bharati Mukherjee’s, “Two Ways to Belong in America” she

chose to assimilate to the American culture to fit in more. As Mukherjee saw it, she was “...

opting for fluidity, self-invention, blue jeans, and T-shirts, and renouncing 3,000 years of

culture,” as she assimilated she felt as if she had to renounce her heritage in order to prosper in

this new world (Mukherjee). She did the most American things she could do to both feel and fit

in like an American.

Alike in “Immigrants and Inculturation” by Deborah A. Organ, Organ talks about

intercultural vision, in where younger generations tend to assimilate more. Due to the fact that

they don’t feel like they are truly part of either Latin American or Anglo culture. Many parishes
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try to include intercultural vision, which acts as a form of assimilation with religion (Organ).

Many Latinos are religious, for many of the adults assimilating hrough the church feels less

forced. It is seen more as God’s will, making it easier for older immigrants to integrate. They feel

as if God wanted them to assimilate, putting the pressure off them, while also helping the youth

feel as if they belong. By meshing, immigrants become less of an outcast and feel more included,

as many immigrants feel that if they enter a new culture they have become one of the natives.

While others choose not to assimilate to the country, many immigrants grip their cultural

roots closely, as the idea of having to lose their culture is unbearable. Another example in

Bharati Mukherjee’s “Two Ways to Belong in America,” is her sister, Mira. She feels the

opposite about assimilation compared to Bharati. The idea of getting her American citizenship

isn’t an option for her. “After 36 years as a legal immigrant in this country she clings

passionately to her Indian citizenship and hopes to go home to India when she retires,”

(Mukherjee) her sister feels as if she would lose a part of her if she where to assimilate. Which is

true, as she would be saying goodbye to her Indian citizenship in lieu of an this American one,

no longer being legally Indian. For her, it’s a point of no return, and she’s not willing to make

that change. That’s something that Mira doesn’t want to do, so she chooses not to assimilate.

Also in “Immigrants Shunning the Idea of Assimilation” by William Branigin, Branigin talks

about the communities created by immigrants. By living in a community on their own, people

don’t feel like outsiders. They all have common beliefs and have come to realize that

assimilation is not something they have to legally do. They bind together to make a home away

from home. Yes they learn English, but that is the extent of their immersion. For those who cling

to their roots, they feel as if they would return to their homeland, while some make their new
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home like their old one. Some immigrants feel that if they lose their culture, they lose

themselves.

The truth is that immigrants have the choice of both. A creation of self identity ​and ​fitting

into a more specific niche. Feeling more welcomed because the world is becoming more

inclusive, is the best of both worlds when combined. My parents assimilated but also didn’t

assimilate. They learned the language, got “American” jobs, became citizens, and that was the

extent of their assimilation. We celebrate holidays that aren’t celebrated in the U.S, and as a

family, we speak Spanish with one another. It hasn’t affected our life, but rather given my

brother and I an advantage,—the advantage of being fluent in two languages. If my parent where

to fully assimilate my brother and I would have been fluent in only one language. My brother

and I would not be able to communicate with our grandparents that never learned English, but

yet are still American citizens. They even took their citizenship test in Spanish. That shows that

you don’t have to fully assimilate to become a citizen and leave behind your language.

Thanks to my parents, and the parents of my friends, we have an unbreakable bond. My

friends and I share a language together; Spanglish. A mixture of English and Spanish. We call it

our secret language because only we can understand it, or if you speak Spanish and English.

Another person that finds value in these two languages is author Gloria Anzaldua in “How to

Tame a Wild Tongue.” “Chicano Spanish sprang out of the Chicanos’ need to identify ourselves

as distinct people” (Anzaldua), the Chicano community didn’t want fully meld. But also for

those who feel that they don’t belong in the U.S. and in their parents’ native country. By creating

a mix of Spanish and English, they created their own niche to self-identify, making them feel

more welcomed without having to fully conceive to the Anglo culture, and not having the
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pressure of abandoning their roots. It creates a peace of mind and helps reduce an identity crisis

in the youth of immigrant parents.

In brief, if immigrants stick with their native culture they feel alienated, but on the other hand,

if they adopt the Anglo culture, and abandon their native one, it causes a feeling of guilt. But by

having a mix of both cultures immigrants make their own true identity. When it comes to

assimilating into a new culture or not, it is better to do both.


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Works Cited

Anzaldua, Gloria. "How to Tame a Wild Tongue." Breaking Boundaries. Ed. Carol Comfort.

Upper Saddle River, NJ: 2000. 119-130 .Print

“Immigrants Shunning the Idea of Assimilation." Family in Society: Essential Primary Sources,

edited by K. Lee Lerner, et al., Gale, 2006, pp. 429-434. Opposing Viewpoints in

Context,http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX2688300166/OVIC?u=lavc_main&sid=O

VIC&xid=7b40f42d. Accessed 17 Oct. 2018.

Mukherjee , Bharati. Two Ways to Belong in America . 1998. Print

Organ, Deborah A. "Immigrants and inculturation." America, 10 Nov. 2003, p. 12. Opposing

Viewpoints in Context, ​http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A109917684/OVIC

?u=lavc_main&sid=OVIC&xid=219f9778. Accessed 17 Oct. 2018