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The Fading of Racism in the United States and the Ensuing Uncertainty of Racial Identity

The Fading of Racism in the United States and the Ensuing Uncertainty of Racial Identity

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Published by Candice Chu
My first paper for my English 3654 class, Ethnic American Literature. It answers (or is supposed to answer) the question, What is the future of race in the United States?
My first paper for my English 3654 class, Ethnic American Literature. It answers (or is supposed to answer) the question, What is the future of race in the United States?

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Published by: Candice Chu on Jan 31, 2009
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11/03/2012

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Candice ChuProf. S. SalaitaEnglish 365427 January 2009The Fading of Racism in the United Statesand the Ensuing Uncertainty of Racial IdentityIn 21
st
Century America, it is easy to say that racism is wrong. Our history has proven it,our leaders proclaim it, and our children know it by heart. Although there will always be thedissenters, the bigots and the ignorant, there is no question that the majority of today’s society believes that every American is equal and, as such, deserves the same rights. And when thecurrent generation of tolerant young adults becomes America’s next generation of parents, theywill raise their own children to be acceptant; to differentiate their peers not by their skin, or their eyes, or their hair, but solely by their inner characteristics. If this pattern continues, then it may be possible that racism will be virtually eradicated from the United States in a matter of decades.However, racism might not be the only thing that is stamped out. If America is not careful, everyminority group’s passionate quest for acceptance may slip into a quiet crusade of assimilation, inwhich all cultural and racial identity is lost.Many Americans are so relieved to see the fading of racism that they prefer not to think about race at all, adhering to the precept that everyone is equal, and therefore “everyone is thesame,” rather than taking the effort to say that everyone is different, yet still equal. This is wherethe danger lies. When a society is passive and lazy about a certain issue, that issue fades into the background of everyday life and ceases to have real value. With racial identity, this could meanthe end of hundreds of traditions and cultures that make America so diverse.
 
Many generations ago, there was a great influx of Europeans to the United States. Amongthese immigrants were the Irish and the Italian. Both of these groups of immigrants weresubjected to much racism and prejudice, on behalf of their religion, appearance and culture,respectively. Over the course of many years, however, both the Irish and the Italian assimilatedinto American culture. They assimilated so well, in fact, that most people today would look at anIrish-American or an Italian-American and identify them simply as “American,” “white,” or “Caucasian.” However, the biggest problem yet is not that
outsiders
cannot identify the originsof these people, but that these people often do not identify with it themselves.When I was in elementary school, I was used to being asked about my ethnicity. With my black hair and slanted eyes, I was clearly “foreign.” This never bothered me. I could tell that myclassmates were mostly curious about my background, and not rude or racist. It always puzzledme, however, that when I asked my fair-haired friends about
their 
origins, they looked at me blankly and sometimes giggled, saying, “What do you mean? I’m white.” This clearly illustratesthe loss of value of many cultures in America—something that I fear for my own culture andstrongly believe should be prevented.However, it is hard for society to raise an objection against this loss of culture when the benefits of quiet assimilation are so obvious, and the benefits of cultural endurance more subtle.When a group of people is so totally assimilated into a society—that is, a group of people adoptsthe habits and customs of a society to the hilt—then they clearly become “equals.” There can beeffectively no debate over equality, because there is no longer a difference between the party that joined the society, and that which originally made up the society. This makes it very simple for  people to go about their everyday lives. After all, human beings crave order and routine, and racecan be seen as just another marker that separates people from each other and disorganizes thesystem of society. For many people, being confronted with the racial identity of others is simply

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