Acculturation is the way to maintain cultural diversity
Immigrants and generations of established immigrant families often try to retain aspects of their culture, whether it’s through food, religious practices or certain celebrated holidays. Cultural diversity is part of the United State’s identity, and the way to keep that cultural diversity is by acculturation.
The three terms used by human geographers to define the way immigrants and cultural groups interact with a new culture are amalgamation, assimilation and acculturation. These different words all relate to the integration of a group into a new society, and each measures the extent to which they do so.
Out of all of these, acculturation is the way to keep immigrants in touch with their culture in order to have a diverse and bicultural society
Amalgamation is the biological blending of cultures. One welcome introduction that resulted from this, for example, is interracial marriage, which contributed to biculturalism in the United States.
However, amalgamation in this country, unfortunately, originates from colonization. For example, when Spain colonized the Americas, it reproduced with the Native population, which led to the creation of a new cultural group, Latinos. This amalgamation was derived through colonization and is morally indefensible.
Additionally, groups shouldn’t have to biologically reproduce with each other to gain cultural diversity.
Assimilation is a term often used to describe when someone is fully absorbed into another culture, which results in leaving their previous culture behind. This is found when American children of immigrant parents only speak English and don’t participate in the cultural norms of their ancestral home.
Assimilation often happens because of the U.S. education system. Schools will often determine how well an immigrant student is doing by measuring their English skills, according to the organization Learning for Justice.
While it is beneficial for an immigrant student in the United States to learn English, schools don’t usually consider how this assimilation causes the student to lose much of their native culture. Assimilation once again isn’t the answer.
The most beneficial yet hardest form of cultural integration to properly achieve is acculturation, which refers to the blending of two cultures to create a bicultural individual.
Acculturation retains the original culture and its practices, but the individual also learns to integrate equally into the newer culture. This allows for someone to navigate two cultures making them able to succeed as an American, but also retain the ties to their culture and ancestral home.
However, acculturation doesn’t come without difficulties. Immigrant parents often may expect their children to orient towards their immigrant identity instead of American culture, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
However, acculturation serves as a form of cultural integration where immigrants can effectively practice and embrace both cultures.
Essentially acculturation can allow for someone to have the best of both worlds. The balancing of two cultures can facilitate the naturalization process for these groups and create a sense of identity with two cultures rather than just one.
Acculturation allows for first and future generations of immigrants, as well as refugees, to be successful in American society as they develop the necessary linguistic skills to communicate and build meaningful connections with other like-minded individuals.
JJ Caceres is a political science freshman who can be reached at [email protected]