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Models of American Ethnicities Essay

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How does Fredrickson distinguish between race and ethnicity? How and under what circumstances can ethnicity become racialized’ (para.2)?

Fredrickson says that “It can be misleading to make a sharp distinction between race and ethnicity when considering intergroup relations in American history” He means that these terms do not have clear distinctions and have evolved over time. In paragraph 2, he writes that ethnicity can become racialized “whenever distinctive group characteristics…are used as the basis for a status hierarchy of groups who are thought to differ in ancestry or descent.

What does Fredrickson mean by “the burden of ‘otherness’”? Summarize the ways in which racial categories and definitions of “whiteness” have changed during the course of American history.  Fredrickson means that throughout the course of American History being labeled as an “other,” has changed. From the 1860s to the 1920s there were different kinds of race quotas on immigration. Definitions of “whiteness have changed drastically as we can observe in Fredrickson’s writing.

In the late 19th and early twentieth centuries the ideas of euguenics, scientific racism, and social Darwinism, all accumulated in different definitions of “whiteness.” Fredrickson writes that “In the minds of many(during the period of the 1860s to the 1920s) true americans were not merely white but also Northern European….some even harbored doubts about the full claim of “whiteness” of swarthy immigrants from southern Italy.”

What are some of the ways that ethnic hierarchy has been eliminated? In what ways does it persist, according to Fredrickson? What evidence can you think of that would support or challenge this contention? Ethnic hierarchy was almost wholly eliminated after WWII among White people of different European background as well as Jews. The ethnic hierarchy shifted from ethnic background to color. After the civil rights movement in the 1960s, most of the ethnic hierarchy had been eliminated.

Fredrickson says that it still persists in the ghettos, indian reservations, and barrios. I agree with Fredrickson on the assertion that Ethnic hierarchy still exists in America today. For example, Unequal treatment by law enforcement and the ethnic targeting among the African American community is still present today.

Fredrickson writes that “assimilationist thinking is not racist in the classic sense” (para. 9) — thereby implying that such thinking may be racist in some other sense. What does he mean by this? Do you agree?

Fredrickson means that assimilationism tries to force one culture into accepting the “superiority, purity, and unchanging character of the dominant culture.” He gives an example of the “Native American cultural genocide” in regards to assimilationism. I agree, Assimilationism can force a culture to throw away part of its identity, values, and traditions. How does Fredrickson distinguish cultural pluralism from assimilation? How did earlier forms of pluralism differ from the current concept of multiculturalism? Fredrickson writes “”Unlike assimilationists, cultural Pluralists celebrate differences among groups, rather than seek to obliterate them.”

According to Fredrickson, pluralism differed from Multiculturalism, “Multiculturalism operated on assumptions that were similar to those of the cultural pluralist tradition, except that the color line was breached and the focus was shifted from the cultures and contributions of diverse European ethnic groups to those of African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.

Why does Fredrickson reject the claim that an emphasis on ethnic identity threatens the unity and stability of American society? Why does a Euro-American backlash against ethnic diversity pose a greater risk in his view? Have you observed any recent examples of either divisiveness or backlash? Compare your observations with those of classmates. He rejects the claim that emphasis on ethnic identity threatens the unity of American society because American society is made up of different ethnic backgrounds. backlash against ethnic diversity poses a greater risk because it provides more room for racism or discrimination.

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