In his book “A Different Mirror”, Ronald Takaki explores the intentions and assumptions about diversity across the United States. The argument that the United States is a multicultural society has often been challenged by Takaki and others. The skepticism towards the existence of a ‘multicultural society’ is mostly due to the fact that American citizens of European descent are considered to be the ‘natural citizens’ of the United States.
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Consequently, the issue of race and citizenship is a controversial subject in the United States. However, Takaki observes that America is mostly considered a nation of European immigrants.
‘Americaness’ has for a long time been synonymous with white people of European descent thereby introducing the issue of race in American citizenship. This paper explores Takaki’s arguments in “A Different Mirror” while focusing on America’s history and citizenship.
The main argument in Takaki’s “A Different Mirror” is that American citizenship should not be concentrated on European stock. Consequently, individuals from other races should actively take part in activities and decisions that grant them unlimited access to citizenship. Takaki’s arguments are valid because in a multicultural society all citizens should equally contribute to their country’s cultural and political outlook.
However, in the United States Europeans dominate both the country’s cultural and political landscapes. It is important to note that the cultures of the original American inhabitants have since faded from the country’s cultural outlook. Therefore, the issue of race supersedes that of immigration or origin when it comes to American citizenship.
Although the United States is considered a multicultural society, cases of ethnocentrism have been persistent throughout the country’s history. The internal conflicts that have rocked the United States over the course of history have served as a reminder that the issues of race and citizenship are intertwined.
Ethnocentrism is responsible for certain groups of people viewing others as outsiders even though both groups are contained in the same environment. On the other hand, all interethnic conflicts produce both ‘conqueror’ and ‘conquered’ groups.
For instance, Takaki outlines how the early encounters between Native Americans and European settlers reveal widespread ethnocentrism. In “A Different Mirror”, the author notes that it was in the best interest of Early European settlers to label Native Americans as savages. The European settlers found it justifiable to rob the early American inhabitants off their land because they were of a different race.
Furthermore, it has since been established that most of the stereotypes that Europeans bestowed upon the early inhabitants were unfounded. Takaki correctly argues that race played an important part in the assignment of citizenship during the early European immigration. For example, a majority of the individuals who find it difficult to gain citizenship in America are of Spanish and Latina descent.
The reason behind Latina nationals’ inability to be accepted in America as equal citizens is closely connected to their race, origin, and language. These factors had previously put Native Americans on a collision path with Europeans when the latter were on the ‘immigrants’ category.
Takaki makes a valid argument when he claims that race and ethnocentrism play a major role in the assignment of citizenship in the United States. I agree with Takaki’s observations that citizenship in America is a product of a narrow-minded look at the United States’ history. The argument that the United States is a multicultural society can easily be challenged.