American identity is an issue that has attracted serious debates in social, economic and political spheres. In the USA, naturalization is one of the mechanisms of acquiring citizenship. In this case, a person born in another territory that is not part of the U.S is granted citizenship through successful application.
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One of the challenges that most immigrants in America have had to grapple with over the years is identity crisis and the social cultural issues associated with it. This paper discusses how identity affects American immigrants.
Since the American society is based on an immigrant heritage, the origin and identity of the Americans is commonly linked with a dedication to an ideology and recognition of primary values rather than common ancestry and history.
Identity refers to the unique traits belonging to any particular person, or shared by all affiliates of a given social unit or group. A person’s identity occurs when he or she identifies with a considerable others such as family members and society. This implies that American immigrants have to adopt new values and practices in order to fit into that society.
At present, it is not easy to define an American since the country has witnessed a great change in the composition of its inhabitants. It is evident that immigration and multiculturalism are instrumental in shaping the American identity.
Many individuals see multiculturalism as one of the mechanisms of creating the “American mosaic” that accommodates the distinctive cultural heritage of various ethnic units, some of whom try to safeguard their indigenous languages and ways of life. In other words, a person can be an American and still maintain his or her racial and ethnic identities.
Some Americans have adopted the concept of multiculturalism and formal learning institutions further promote it. For instance, the curricula of both primary and secondary learning institutions in America promote the understanding and appreciation of cultural multiplicity by exposing learners to various social and cultural practices.
However, critics of multiculturalism aver that it creates tension in the American society because it encourages the existence many cultural practices, which might jeopardize the unity of the Americans.
Thus, critics of multiculturalism perceive America as a “melting pot” in which various individuals emigrating from various nations can easily be assimilated and accommodated. Many surveys indicate that majority of the American population support the “melting pot” postulation, which encourages American immigrants to embrace the American traditions and language.
Majority of Americans are confident that the government and economic systems promote democracy and equality in the American society. However, as new American immigrants embrace new social cultural practices, they gradually abandon their cultural heritage and eventually lose their original identity.
For instance, the initial Hispanic immigrants adopted American English and way of life and the same has been witnessed over the years among the American immigrants.
Language is an indispensible tool for propagating social cultural practices in different societies worldwide. For example, it is through language that people get to understand their origin, migration and development through time and space.
As American immigrants begin to speak English, they gradually lose their identity because they learn the American lifestyle through language and they feel that by speaking English they are being modernized. Consequently, many American immigrants end up losing their identities in the process of being Americanized.