The Prominence of Ethnocentrism in the USA

El otro lado is a term that Mexican citizens use when referring to the United States. When the phrase is translated, it means the other side. Many Mexican immigrants view the other side as a land of opportunity. Most notably migration does not only present opportunities it could also comes with cultural challenges especially for the newly arrived immigrants and their children. Coming into a new country such as the United States unfortunately means letting go a part of your culture to be apart of a new one. It goes without saying that immigrants are not the only ones who face cultural challenges, from previous history there is evidence to support that indigenous people most commonly referred to as Native Americans were also forced to assimilate into mainstream culture. It is ironic how a country that prides themselves in their freedom impedes people to be a part of a true multiculturism society.

Immigrants who come to the United States are faced with a language barrier. Eventually over time these immigrants learn to accept English as the national language as they must adapt to be able to communicate with others for things such as school and work. However, Policies such as the English-Only instruction affect immigrant children the most as it is applied at school. Students are only allowed to speak in English even outside of class during break. This could be a problem for students when they first enter English immersion classes as they are bound to feel lost and unwanted in the school. It also affects them when they attempt to socialize in a language they are unfamiliar with. Pledging in English is not the only assimilation strategy used on immigrants and ethnic minority students. There once was a ethnics studies program that was positively changing the lives of children and their parents but because it was viewed as a, contrary to American ideals it was shut down. Many students expressed that this program turned their life around for the better, but government officials continued to display ethnocentrism, a belief of superiority that one ethnic group is more valuable than the other. They even went as far as to say that the program was a waste of tax dollars as it was teaching students to hate America.

Unfortunately, this display of ethnocentrism in the United States can even be dated way back in time with Native Americans and missionary schools. These schools where the first to attempt to eliminate native culture in order to suppress them into white main stream culture. At that time Indians were not U.S. citizens, and they did not have the right to control their own lives and the education of their children. Even if the parents opposed the idea of their children being taken to boarding schools there was nothing that they could do to stop it. Like the English only policy Native boarding schools’ also forced children to speak in English however the schools took it a step further by obligating them to forget the language of origin for good. The children were also obligated to dress like civilized Americans. If they were caught not following the rules, they would be punished. In this new era there are still lingering consequences set by forcing Native American to forget their culture and Native tongue. Today the debate is if Native schools should keep the Native tongue as primary language in schools or if English.

Over all, I do not think that one culture is more valuable than any other since we are all part of the same race the human race. To shed light to the cultural problems, I believe people should start by leaving their ethnocentrism beliefs behind. It is due to this way of reasoning and thinking that there is a major division between different ethnicity, races, and religious groups. People should feel free to express their culture without being told by society that they are not being American. I strongly believe that another solution to cultural challenges can be to stop forcibly assimilating people into being American. Instead we should all get informed of the richness of different cultures. Multiculturalism can bring many benefits to our society that includes home, school, and work.