American creed

Posted by Abhigya K. Michigan
Tagged with

Cultural diversity, Immigration

         America is a country of multiple cultures, of multiple immigrants, from multiple countries with multiple cultures. Immigration is an issue that’s a major part of the American culture. Immigrants help the American creed more than they hurt it. Immigrants bring a new sense of cultural identity to America.

America is a nation that cannot prosper with having closed borders, it was a nation that was founded by people that wanted to escape religious persecution. It was a nation created by people that wanted a better living for themselves and for their children. Those pilgrims succeeded in making America a strong nation but they did so by prosecuting the Native Americans. America is a strong nation but it's also a nation that has been  plagued by its past, it's not a perfect nation. The pilgrims succeeded in bringing diversity but also destroyed the diversity that was originally there. They prosecuted the Native Americans,  driving them out of their own territories. Christopher Columbus, for whom we have a national holiday killed native tribes. The Spanish brought diseases and weapons that dramatically reduced the population of the native tribes, and after they did this they took their land. By reducing the Native American population and America had reduced its cultural diversity. In a similar way, America is reducing its cultural diversity by placing social stigmas towards immigrants.

 Benjamin Franklin opposed immigration, stating that too many Germans would destroy the British culture of America. Irish immigrants were seen as lazy drunks, and Polish, Russian and Jewish immigrants were thought to have too hard of a time fitting in. America has always had a controversial stand against immigration. Although every country should be justified to have limits for immigration, America’s limits are sometimes surrounded by social stigmas and unjustified fear.

 The view that immigrants just want to come to benefit from government welfare is at times outlandish. Very few people are willing to travel hundreds of miles and go through a lengthy application process just to freeload in a country that doesn't even speak their own language. Most people that come here to stay come here with the strong belief that they can make their lives better. Studies that are conducted that claim that immigrants are using more in welfare than native-born citizens aren't always true. If a child is born to immigrant parents and receives free lunch at school the whole household would be listed as using welfare. A household with an American spouse who therefore qualified for welfare could be counted as “using welfare.'' These studies also fail to look at the children of those immigrants who grow up to graduate from high school go on to college and find a place in America’s middle class. There are also studies that are conducted that state that immigrants help the welfare programs more than they hurt it. . According to one study by the American Immigration Council, Immigration tax payments total 20 to 30 billion more than what they use in welfare.

President Donald Trump stated in July of 2015 “They [ immigrants] are taking our jobs. They’re taking our manufacturing jobs. They’re taking our money. They’re killing us.” Illegal immigrants often do the jobs that native-born citizens back away because they either require too much labor, or have poor working conditions. Although they do take jobs that could benefit native-born citizens, saying that “ they’re killing us” is a broad overstatement. Immigrants whether they are illegal or not contribute to America’s economy. They work for America’s employers and also establish the business that creates jobs for Americans. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, small businesses owned by immigrants employed an estimated 4.7 million people in 2007, and according to the latest estimates, these small businesses generated more than $776 billion annually. Immigrants also occupy jobs that America needs. Nearly one-fourth of all physicians are foreign-born, the demand for physicians is greatly going to increase in the next few years due to an increase in the retirement of the baby boomer populations. If we didn't have those immigrant, we would have more of a shortage of physicians than we already do.  Immigrants help the economic system, they are contributing to America not “killing” it.

By placing stigmas upon immigrants we undermine cultural diversity. Immigrants might feel targeted and they might feel the need to hide from their own culture. One time my family and I went to 7-11. I remember the woman at the counter holding up two coloring pages, she looked at my parents and asked them if my siblings spoke English. When my parents said yes she gave the pages to my siblings and told them that they could get a free Slurpee if they brought the pages back. The woman probably meant no harm when she asked this question, but throughout my life, I have been targeted with this question by teachers and other adults in one form or another and it has always left me feeling like a fish out of the water. I know English better than any other language, but my name and race doesn't seem to confirm this. In the American Creed movie, one of the Stanford students stated that her parents didn't want to teach her their languages because they felt that she might have a hard time fitting in. This might be one of the reasons why they might not have wanted their daughter to know their languages. When you place social stigmas upon immigrants, they are going to take steps to ensure that they rise above your social stigmas,and that at times comes with the cost of some loss of cultural diversity.

America also seems to have an unadulterated fear of terrorism, particularly Muslims. When I was in fifth grade, my teacher told a story about these two boys that she used to teach. When they were having a class discussion about 9-11 the first boy yelled out something along the lines of, “I hate all Muslims they are all terrorist,” the second boy who was his best friend was left in tears. Apparently, the first boy didn't know that his best friend was Muslim and went to comfort him, saying that he didn't hate his family or him, or think that they were terrorist. The actions and beliefs of a few people never represent the actions and beliefs of an entire religion. Some people are also willing to go to extreme lengths for their beliefs.  a prime example of this would be the holocaust where Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party killed approximately six million Jews, because of their belief of the superior Aryan race. There have been various debates about Hitler’s religious beliefs but many think that he was an atheist. Now knowing this, suppose the situation of the two boys played out again, but this time  the first boy said something along the lines of,  I hate all atheist because they don't believe in God so they all turn out to be murderers. " We live in a world where Islamophobia has dramatically risen. Donald Trump has passed legislation to stop Muslim refugees from certain countries from entering the U.S. when most of these refugees simply want to get away from their war-stricken homes. It also makes some of the immigrants that live here feel despised because of the religion that they practice.

Picture a big room. In the middle there is a big metal pot. In the pot is a stew of some sorts, with a variety of different vegetables. The vegetables are separate but you can't taste the stew without tasting the flavor of each of those vegetables. This is America, there is not one sole culture but many diverse cultures. I think that sometimes we fail to see how much other cultures encompass us. When you drive around Michigan you can see multiple restaurants from multiple different countries and most of these restaurants were founded by immigrants. Threads of other cultures are woven together to create the American tapestry and at the same time we live in a world where different cultures are separated into groups.We live in a world where America isn't a melting pot but a mixed salad. Where immigrants are separated by social stigma and put into different groups based on race, religion and other factors, and this works to undermine cultural diversity in America.

I came to America when I was five and to Michigan when I was eight. My parents have every intention of going back to Nepal after my siblings and I graduate, maybe even sooner. Ever since I was eight I’ve been told that I shouldn't forget my culture. That I wasn’t born in America and that I would never be American. I haven't been to Nepal for almost nine years now and I know that when I go back there I will be seen as a foreigner. I have forgotten how to read and write in Nepali, my vocabulary resembles that of a seven-year-old’s and my grammar is terrible. My ideas and values are very different from my parents. I know next to nothing about Nepal’s political system. I remember Nepal, I know where I am from but it seems like a story sometimes, with the main character being someone else but me. I can't really say that I have a strong sense of my own cultural identity, but my background, my life in Nepal and the traditions and the customs that I practiced, the customs and traditions that my family still practices today has shaped me to become myself.I think that everyone’s lives have been affected by the lives of people from other cultures. That the traditions that their immigrant great-grandparents or grandparents or other relatives practiced have affected their lives in some way. Those ideals and values that they held still lives on in us.

Cultural diversity affects us as individuals and it helps define our background. Immigration is the main source of cultural diversity. When we place social stigmas upon immigration we are ultimately erasing our own sense of identity. We need to realize how important cultural diversity is to us and how to enhance it.As former President Obama once said in a naturalization ceremony, “The lesson of these 236 years is clear – immigration makes America stronger. Immigration makes us more prosperous. And immigration positions America to lead in the 21st century. And these young men and women are testaments to that. No other nation in the world welcomes so many new arrivals. No other nation constantly renews itself, refreshes itself with the hopes, and the drive, and the optimism, and the dynamism of each new generation of immigrants.”

Published on Jun 10, 2018
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