Asian American Study





Asian American Study

  1. Racism is a common feature in the western countries since the advent of immigration into western countries. Many people are able to adapt into the new system without much effort today although the threat of racism to these individuals is still evident. Many theories explain racism and its impact to society. Perhaps the most prominent theory that explains racism is the “assimilation paradigm” elaborated by Milton Gordon. The term ‘assimilation’ expresses a sense of oneness that can be used to explicate racism in the western world. This paper aims to explain the concept of assimilation in relation to racism and explain how the paradigm has affected various groups.

Assimilation refers to the process of fitting in or adapting to a new society actions and culture in an attempt to conform to their way of life. Robert Park, the pioneer of assimilative thinking, maintained that race consisted of four main stages namely contact, conflict, accommodation and ultimately assimilation. Contact involved the migration process from home country to the new country. Conflict entailed disputes between the host and the immigrant community. At this stage, the host community may attempt to force or coerce the immigrant community to adapt and take up their value systems and beliefs. The coercion may not be direct but may be through factors such as racist tendencies against the incoming group. This was followed by accommodation where the two groups live together. Assimilation was the final phase of the process.

Milton Gordon developed this argument and formulated seven core stages of assimilation. These stages comprised of cultural, structural, marital, identification, attitudinal, behavioral and civic. The cultural stage also referred to as ‘acculturation’. Acculturation occurs when the immigrant group takes on the culture of the host group. The structural stage takes place when the immigrant group is integrated into their new society by becoming active participants in their activities and common practices. Marrying the two groups in large numbers characterizes the marital stage. The marital stage does not always mean inter-marriages. In the fourth stage, identification, the incoming group relates to the dominant group by both identity and practice. The subordinated group feels like they are a part of the host community. The attitudinal phase takes place when the incoming group ceases to feel or experience the prejudice of the host society. The sixth stage entails behavioral reception where the incoming grouping no longer feels like they are discriminated against. The civic stage is characterized by complete identification with the host society. The minority status group no longer feels different from the dominant group and they now have access to the local resources and power like their counterparts.

Several concepts of racism can be explained using Milton’s assimilation paradigm. They include colorblind racism, racism as a set of attitudes, racism without racists, as a system of power and internalized racism. Colorblind racism involves the equal treatment of members of a given society without any regard on their racial characteristics or background information. Members of different racial backgrounds are treated in the same way have equal opportunities and access to services and social amenities. Colorblind racism disregards cultural differences in a population rendering policy frameworks for instance affirmative action, obsolete. According to Milton’s view of assimilation, colorblind racism reflects the civic stage where the initially minority status group is fully accepted in the society and have access to resources like the dominant population.

The system of racism without racists is a common feature in the society today. Many people assert that they do not see color when they serve or live with people of different races. More plaintive is the outcry by many people who contend that a selected group the population still claim to be discriminated against. These groups demand affirmative action despite being granted equal opportunities in the society. Racism without racists is explained by the absence of people who claim to see no racism in the society that requires affirmative action or special rights fro the perceived minority group. In relation to the assimilation paradigm, the concept of racism without racists is explained by the identification and the civil stage. In this case, the subordinate group is at the subordinate stage while the host society is at the civic stage. This means that the minority status group acknowledges the existence of racism while the latter does not.

Racism is also considered a set of attitudes by certain people. Although many may argue counteractively, racism may be a by-product of people’s beliefs and values. In relation to the assimilation paradigm, some members of both the incoming and dominant group may still assume the presence of racism despite the majority feeling being that the two groups have completely assimilated. Perceived racism in this case stems from internal factors, which are their view and opinions. Racism can also be used as a system of power. Racially marginalized groups use policies such as affirmative action to gain positions of authority and access certain privileges without struggle. This form of disguised or reversed racism works against the host society despite both groups reaching civic stage of the assimilation paradigm. Internalized racism refers the distorted racist attitudes by marginalized groups upon themselves. The perceived minority status group may have self-hatred because of encountering racial discrimination in the past despite both groups having reached the final stage of the assimilation paradigm.

Various groups that have experienced racism in the past speak of many effects to their well-being. People originating from the Middle East regions, which comprise a large Muslim populace, have experienced discrimination since most terrorist activities has been associated with them. As a result, Muslims have been subjected to inspections that are more thorough during flights than their non-Muslim counterparts. This has raised concern over innocent Muslims who have been exposed to discrimination from the rest of their population owing to their racial origin. They are likely to feel threatened by the other groups in the society and this may result in disharmony.









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