Mimi Jimmy HUM 160/Hoene June 15, 2006 Essay Assignment Recipe of Assimilation with Denial and a dash

of Ignorance Karen Shepherd (2006) is a female writer in the Auburn Reporter newspaper and writes the column, My Turn. With all the current protests against the new felony laws to be implemented regarding immigration to the U.S., Shepherd wrote her column, “It’s not immigration, but assimilation that’s important” in the May-June Auburn Reporter. She began her article by stating that she had started out writing her article on how illegal immigration deepens the U.S. national debt. Shepherd said, “I began writing that we must close the borders to all but legal immigration, and then it hit me. Of course the government must deal with all these problems immediately, but my personal concern was not immigration, but assimilation.” She continued with talking about how Seattle is split up into different sections and the signs of restaurants and stores have different languages like Vietnamese and Spanish. These signs sometimes had the English translation alongside it but others didn’t. Teddy Roosevelt is quoted from the time that the U.S. opened its borders to immigration and he had insisted that full “Americanization” should be upheld. Shepherd said Roosevelt was against “hyphenated Americans” because he thought it would bring about nation-wide discordant between groups and said only English should be taught within the schools and that every accepted immigrant should learn English within 5 years. Shepherd approved the past standards of becoming and being an American. Shepherd shared a personal story about her daughter and her daughter’s experience with her Romanian inlaws who had been living in the country for over 25 years but only started to learn English when she had entered the family. It was troubling for her daughter to see that the family’s only means

Jimmy 2 to translation was one man in the house who did speak English. She said that the rejection of English is to reject being American. Shepherd stated that not too long ago, immigrants had worked hard to learn and grasp the English language. Laszlo, a man she had met who moved here during the Hungarian revolution, shared his experience with shepherd about how hard it was to live in America when he first moved here. He had spent time within groups to practice for hours on end to learn English. He was honored to be accepted as an American and wanted to give back to the country. Lazlo finished school and is now has become a successful radio officer. Shepherd stated that Lazlo is the definition of assimilation. “That’s what being an American should be….He was American. Period. And proud and thankful to be so” (Shepherd). Who is Karen Shepherd? I don’t read the Auburn Reporter consistently and after reading “It’s not immigration, but assimilation that’s important,” it would not leave my mind. There is a picture of her within her column. Shepherd looks to be a middle age, Caucasian woman who obviously has an education because she is a regular columnist for a newspaper. What does she know about assimilation and why is it her answer? It definitely looks like she was born into the ideal of what it means to be an American. So what is an American? Shepherd wishes for the nostalgic ideal of what it is to be an American. In Created Equal (2004), Hector St. John de Crevecoeur was quoted: What, then, is the American, this new man? He is neither an European, or the descendent of an European….He is an American, who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new

Jimmy 3 government he obeys, and the new rank he holds….Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world (p. 547). This idea of a melting pot has created the falsehood of the American dream. It gives the idea that all Americans are equal with equal rights and it is the land of opportunity; if you just work hard enough then success is within reach. In Created Equal, they said that melting pot myth is not based on cultural blending and equality but on the “racial supremacy” of Anglo-Americans. They said that differences were not accepted into this melting pot but seen as substandard and people who were different were often “treated as childlike or even subhuman” (p. 548). They said that treating people who were different at a lower status brought about disgraceful American historical instances like: “slavery, segregation, and lynching; the near extermination of tribal peoples and cultures; the denial of citizenship and constitutional rights to African Americans, American Indians, Chinese and Japanese immigrants; the brutal exploitation of Mexican and Asian laborers” (p. 548). The melting pot myth, the American dream and the ideal of equality was built upon a very narrow definition and standards of “equality.” What is this newly created man today? If a man is to be deemed equal he shall not be different than others and shall not portray any trace of feminine qualities. Michael S. Kimmel (2004) reported that “within the dominant culture, the masculinity that defines white, middle class, early middle-aged, heterosexual men is the masculinity that sets the standards for other men against which other men are measure and, more often than not, found wanting….The hegemonic definition of manhood is a man in power, a man with power, and a man of power” (p. 85). Kimmel’s rules of masculinity included: No sissy stuff; Be a Big Wheel; Be a Sturdy Oak and Give ‘em Hell (p. 86). He said the first rule is

Jimmy 4 the most valid rule in masculinity and teaches boys at a young age to distance themselves from their mother, inhibit any traces his mother may have taught him and then finally to devalue all women. Masculinity is not purely what it means to be a man but the fear of being perceived as having traits of homosexuality or feminine qualities. Because of this, in male socialization, women are devalued and carry a lesser status then men. The American man does not value equality, otherwise he would not look at the feminine traits and characteristics with such disdain that his mother, sister, and daughter have and have to suppress anything even near similar to their qualities. Is this what it means to be a proud American man? As American women should we be proud of these proud American men? There is no mention to how women fit into the picture of what it means to be American and how it effects us as being women. bell hooks (1994) said different forms of media display the American values that are established and maintained by our “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” ( para. 3). hooks reported that gansta rap and the young black men are often criticized regarding their obscene words and objectification of women. Gansta rap is a manifestation of the mainstream values in American culture in which other forms of media also portray but go unnoticed. Micheal A. Messner (2002) said, “a common theme in commercials aimed at boys and men is to depict women as capable either of humiliating men or of affirming men’s masculine desirability” (p. 480). Through his research of sports media and commercials, Messner also found that women are shown as either the Madonna or the whore. Emotional commitment to women is to be avoided and the “sexy dancers or models” are preferred and seen a “sexy props or prizes” (p. 479-481). Jean Kilbourne (2004) said that the popular magazines have ads that influence violence and the objectification of women. These ads and popular culture reinforce the notion of the “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” society that hooks said we live in.

Jimmy 5 Kilbourne said that these ads are dangerous for women because it endorses male violence against women. She also said women become very judgmental of other women and because we so want to be in control of our own lives and bodies that if a violent sexual act against a woman happens that we can say she was asking for it and had put herself in that position. With reinforcement in all media and the desensitization of dominance and violence, as women we have internalized our own oppression from the male dominated world that we in turn become another piece of the puzzle that reinforces the “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” system we live in. Assimilation is not the answer… As American women, should we be proud to be deemed a lesser status, objectified and then tell us that we asked for it? Learning new ways and values would be working towards the current façade of the American Dream and the land of equal opportunity. If we are to walk around this world like zombies and just accept the way our society treats us then we are of course just going to live in this white, male dominated society and as women, stay in our category of lesser status. To recognize the pattern of discrimination against anyone who falters from the notion of what it means to be a man and an American is to recognize the short comings of the term equality that is thrown around in the United States. If we can bring awareness to Americans as a whole of how our citizens are treated then maybe we can begin to change and begin to use the term equality as it really means. We need to teach our children, girls and boys, to veer from this path that we are currently on and treat each other with respect. We need to teach our children that all people, no matter what race, ethnicity, sex, gender, origin, belief, or origin, are all human beings and need to be treated so. Respect for others and ourselves and the differences that make us individuals is the answer.

Jimmy 6 References Colombo, G., Cullen, R, Lisle, B (Eds.). (2004) Created equal: the myth of the melting pot. Rereading America, (p. 547-550). New York; Bedford/St. Martin’s. hooks, b. (1994). Sexism and misogyny: who takes the rap? Misogyny, gangsta rap, and the piano. END ZMAGAZINE. Kilbourne, J., (2004). “Two ways a woman can get hurt”: advertising and violence. In Colombo, G., Cullen, C., Lisle, B. (Eds.), Rereading America (p. 455-476). New York; Bedford/St. Martin’s. Kimmel, M.S, (1994). Masculinity as homophobia fear, shame, and silence in the construction of gender identity. In Brod, H. & Kaufman, M. (Ed.), Theorizing Masculinities, (p. 119141). Sage Publications. Messner, M. A., (2004). Center of attention: the gender of sports media. In Colombo, G., Cullen, C., Lisle, B. (Eds.), Rereading America (p. 477- 488). New York; Bedford/St. Martin’s. Shepherd, K. (2006, May 17-June 6). It’s not immigration, but assimilation that’s important. Auburn Reporter, p. 22. Shepherd, K. (2006, June 7-20). Learning life lessons from a North African friend. Auburn Reporter, p. 18.