Assassinate Assimilation

Adapting to the setting around you is necessary to a certain extent, but a line should be drawn between assimilating in order to get what you need and assimilating in order to “fit in.”

Danielle Moran, Columnist

An article published by the United States Census Bureau stated that the longer immigrants live in America, the longer “they” become “us.” I believe that they should become “us”, while still maintaining the culture and spirit of “them.”

According to the great Merriam Webster, assimilation is when a person or group of people become part of a different society or country by adopting the ways of that culture. It’s a process that has happened throughout history and it’s a process that is still occurring today, but for different reasons. In the past, assimilation was often used as a way to avoid racial/ethnic discrimination. These days, it’s more commonly used as a way to blend in with those around you. However, I find this idea to be silly when diversity is something you should strive for.

Here’s what’s going on these days: Newcomers to the country take on American norms in order to fit into society without being judged. Parents give their children “white” names, people don’t wear their domestic clothing styles, they do not eat their ethnic cuisines, and in doing so, they are leaving behind or neglecting their original culture.

My mother has a friend whose parents are native Hindu Indians, and she is as well, but she was raised in the United States. Her parents gave her the beautiful, traditional name, Pratisha, but told her schools that her name was Trish so that she wouldn’t be made fun of by her peers for having a different type of name.

I can understand her parents’ point of view, as they were first-generation immigrants coming to live in a new country with new standards. But I don’t think people should feel the need to hide who they are or where their family comes from in order to be accepted. Luckily, as Pratisha grew older, she decided that she wanted people to call her by her real name because she was proud of it and where she came from. My mother and their closest friends now call her Teesh.

I understand that, in some ways, assimilation needs to happen. Say a non-English-speaking person from around the world grabs their suitcase and their passport, hops on a plane, and comes to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Chances are, if this non-English speaker remains a non-English speaker, life will not be easy peasy for them. So in this situation, where the person is learning the dominant language in order to converse with and understand people, assimilation is necessary. But other than that, people should not change, hide, or neglect who they are and how they live.

Besides, standing out among the crowd can be a good thing. We are the Great American Melting Pot after all – diversity should not only supported, but encouraged. Even Horizon Honors took action this school year and last by having units that celebrated the diversity of their student body. So you wear that bindi, girl. You embrace that traditional name. You bring that delicious cultural dish to school, in a cute lunch box too, because that’s who you are! Celebrate, don’t assimilate.