America has had a rough history when it comes to socially constructed views on race as well as ethnicity. Unfortunately, when you bring one culture into another an inevitable chaos breaks out. This has proven to be true in many instances throughout history; from the mistreatment of migrant workers to stealing Native Americans’ land and African American enslavement, America has practically seen it all. This systemic racism found in early America is tragic to say the least. An obscene amount of authentic cultures were washed away because of this want to come to a new land with new people.
Moreover, it is difficult to come by an ethnically diverse community of people because of this. Part of the reason this has happened is because of the desire for the U.S to be a money/consumer driven society. We as a country are obsessed with becoming number one; however, this means we are willing to pay the price of forfeiting the opportunity to welcome diversity amongst us.
It has become apparent that race is simply a social construct that is based solely off of the color of one’s skin and not a true judgement of who a person is or where they come from. Ethnicity, on the other hand, is a far more accurate representation of this. A person can adopt any ethnicity they please despite their country origins; this is because ethnicity pertains to one’s culture rather than skin color or native country. You can live in the United States, but have a strong Mexican ethnic background without ever stepping foot in the country of Mexico.
The United states of America has always been a “melting pot” of race and ethnicity. We are one of the most diverse countries in the world, which reflects on our higher percentage of racial crimes and issues. However, despite some of the flaws of our beautiful country, migrants from all over the world still believe that they can come and achieve the American dream. In the movie Romantíco, Carmelo Sanchez and his good friend Arturo are a Mariachi duo. The two men travel to the United States to earn more money to send back to their families in their native country of Mexico. Night after Night, him and Arturo roam San Francisco looking for small gigs to perform. Coming to the United States was a big move and he felt he was more valuable to his family by moving to the United States in order to support them. This is a common theme in the hispanic culture; a longing to obtain of the ideal American dream. Although Carmelo thought he was benefiting his family by going to the United States, they actually would rather have had him there so they could all be together. When he was in the United States he was making about $100 dollars a night and was able to send it home to his family; whereas, when he went back to Mexico he was barely scraping by making pesos by the day.
After realizing the potential he had to be making a significantly larger amount of money in the U.S Carmelo began to lean towards a new culture; the American culture. In the United states we have a very consumer driven society; therefore, there are higher wages and demand for workers. With this being said, Carmelo’s family had not been exposed to this different way of operating an economy. Within many cultures outside of the U.S people are less concerned with money and more concerned about being a whole family. Therefore, by being exposed to this way of life his ethnic practices were split into two; Mexican and American. Carmelo found himself torn between two countries; two ways of life. He ultimately decided that being together with his family was more important than trying to make it in the United States. It would be a lot harder, but Carmelo was determined to provide a better life for all of them while staying in Mexico. I think that after his mother passed away it really helped him realize this fact; family was the most important thing to him. At the end of the movie he promises to live his life for his family as well as will with his his family; therefore, fully identifying with his Mexican ethnicity.
Wages and corruption in countries south of the border are high and forces the common people to want to migrate for better opportunities. My dad family is from El Salvador, which is a very corrupt country. They were originally known for their coffee, which brought in 95% of their countries revenue, however, this income was only with 2% of the population. This forced tensions to grow between classes forming the Central American Socialist Party that aimed to protest against the government. (The El Salvadoran Civil War) In response to this, the government supported military killing to those going against them. The corruption led to many of the peasants to flee that could, my grandpa, being one of them. He saw the horrors and tragedies going on and with his wife and two kids, felt he needed a better life for them. During the civil war in the 1980s, my dad was about 5 years old and my uncle, about 2. My grandparents were both sold on the idea of the American dream and believed that was what was best for them and so that’s what they did. After coming to America, the family struggled with finding jobs and a place to live, getting exploited by employers and economic oppression as a result of being immigrants. It wasn’t until got my grandpa got a job driving trucks and worked hard to provide for the family they were very fortunate for any opportunity that presented itself.
Besides the hispanic culture in the United States, other cultures faced oppression due to their cultural backgrounds. In Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress, Ease deals with problems of racial identity. He knows and understands the color of his skin, but he wants to break away from the stereotypes that are associated with his race and he explains “he got the nerve to tell me that my people have to learn to give a little extra if they want to advance…. I told him that my people been givin’ a little extra since before Italy was even a country,” (Mosley 73). Easy is trying hard to make a living and work for everything that he does and just gets tossed to the side for not wanting to work one extra hour. There is a problem of self identification in a world that does not allow any person to escape the racial stereotypes. Seeing where we stand today on race and racial injustices, it’s crazy to think how far we have come. The problems Easy was dealing with was common to all those of colors, whether you were black, indian, hispanic and so on, but the black community was impacted the most. To this day we as Americans still deal with racial injustice towards the black community with police brutality, hate crimes towards them from white people and the fact that Obama, our first African-American president felt the need to use his state of the union address in his second term to bring light of the dialogue between whites and blacks says something about us, because even though we have shifted from “but the Negro workers didn’t get a drink with Benny. We didn’t go to the same bars, we didn’t even wink at the same girl,”(Mosley 108) as explained by Ease, to a more equal community, we still have improvements to be made. In the last two decades, there has been numerous polls and two thirds of us don’t believe that there is a race problem in the United States (America has a big Race problem) and it isn’t until a major event happens, such as Ferguson, or the Trayvon Martin shooting that brings these injustices to light. These events cause for chaos in different communities and uprisings against those that are supposed to “protect and serve” for those around them.
People of color aren’t the only ones who face racial injustices. Even in Beware Beware by Steph Cha, she explains the difficulties of Korean Americans and what is was like to be an outsider. She takes Daphne and Jaime to a Korean restaurant and feels the need to explain “it was a popular spot among Koreans and non Koreans alike, where Daphne and Jaime wouldn’t feel out of place” (Cha 73) and later talks about how the waiter spoke english and this shows how back then , people were unfamiliar with the different ethnic backgrounds and to her she wanted to make them feel normal, but to her it was normal. All races and ethnicities face a culture clash among others and sometimes it can be a challenging factor for those who are are afraid of what others think. It is important for cultures to clash however because every culture can bring about different aspects and perks that others may lack.
However the we look at these injustices, each of the races deal with different ethnicity problems because ethnicity doesn’t always coincide with your race. A lot of different cultures exist here in the United States from all over the world and those whose parents came to this country for the American dream had a different upbringing than those who came about after they were already settled here. My friend who is Mexican, based on race, considers himself “American” because he has never been to Mexico and doesn’t feel that that culture has anything to do with the way he was raised in America, which is crazy to think about because it is important to understand the background from where you came from and understand the why behind it. We as American need to continue moving towards and equal nation. It’s been far too long for those being oppressed each and everyday and we are where we are today because the multicultural are doing the jobs that Americans don’t want to do and it helps keep the economy stable. Let them all help pave the way to actually making America number one.