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Thread: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

  1. #81
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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    To be, or not to be...a Jew.

    Quote Originally Posted by Outsider
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vince
    What does it mean to be a "Jew"?

    Excellent example! Why don't you look it up? It's actually pretty complicated.
    Here's a funny thing: according to one traditional definition, if your mother is a Jew and your father isn't a Jew, then you are a Jew. But if your father is a Jew and your mother isn't a Jew, then you are not a Jew. Where does that leave genetics? Out the window, perhaps?

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vince
    What does it mean to be half-Chinese, half-Dutch?

    Normally, that's a shorthand way of saying that "one of the person's parents is Chinese/Dutch". Neither of which is determined by genetics, obviously.

    I posted this explanation of ethnicity a while ago in this thread, which was also an interesting discussion. Here's a quote from the Overview section:

    Quote:
    In the final analysis, it is clear that people, not nature, create our identities. Ethnicity and supposed "racial" groups are largely cultural and historical constructs. They are primarily social rather than biological phenomena.
    I can answer this one!!!!! (Yay! I feel so special!!!)
    Okay, the first thing that you need to remember is that there are two seperate things when it comes to this topic: Jewish, 99% of the time, means the religion, and if you are talking about a nationality or what have you then it is Hebrew. A lot of people get the confused. It's hard to keep track of. Now, as far as the mother and father thing is concerned, this is why the rules are like that:
    In The Jewish religion/tradition it is customary for the children to become whatever religion the mother is, seeing as she is the one that bore them. However, depending on the sect of Judiasm, this is very rarely a problem.
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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    Quote Originally Posted by vince
    But guess what? Some cultures have inherently inferior traits. Some cultures practice genital mutilation on women. Would condemning this aspect of a culture as backwards be racist against anybody? No.
    Some cultures have inherently inferior traits. Some cultures invade sovereign countries, kill thousands of innocent people in the process, and then torture many others. Would condemning this aspect of a culture as backwards be racist against anybody? No.

    Quote Originally Posted by vince
    Associating race/ethnicity and culture is itself racist, because you are assigning someone a culture (a sociological construct rather than a biological one) to someone based on their appearance rather than on their free will. At birth, people are tabula rasa (excuse my bad Latin). My view is that cultures are not equal, but races and ethnicities are (because I don't believe they exist). The most popular multiculturalist view is that races/ethnicities are equal, and their corresponding cultures are all equal, just different and should be tolerated and celebrated. Traditional racists believe that races/ethnicities are not equal, and their corresponding cultures have a hierarchy that matches the hierarchy of races.

    The problem with traditional salad-bowl multiculturalism is: how do I determine what my OWN culture is that I must preserve?
    First, biological constructs are as cultural as cultural constructs. Second, you are confusing natural and normal group generalizations with stereotypes.

  3. #83
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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    "First, biological constructs are as cultural as cultural constructs. Second, you are confusing natural and normal group generalizations with stereotypes."

    Care to explain what you mean?

    I don't think there's a biological link between hair color/eye-shape and the use of chopsticks

    Stereotypes ARE generalizations. But sentences like "Chinese culture uses chopsticks" is not a generalization, it is a description. It becomes a generalization when one says "All Chinese people only use chopsticks" because you are applying it over everyone in the group. I don't know what you mean by me "confusing them"
    Last edited by vince; 3rd August 2006 at 7:12 PM.
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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    Quote Originally Posted by vince
    Associating race/ethnicity and culture is itself racist, because you are assigning someone a culture (a sociological construct rather than a biological one) to someone based on their appearance rather than on their free will. At birth, people are tabula rasa (excuse my bad Latin). My view is that cultures are not equal, but races and ethnicities are (because I don't believe they exist). The most popular multiculturalist view is that races/ethnicities are equal, and their corresponding cultures are all equal, just different and should be tolerated and celebrated. Traditional racists believe that races/ethnicities are not equal, and their corresponding cultures have a hierarchy that matches the hierarchy of races.

    The problem with traditional salad-bowl multiculturalism is: how do I determine what my OWN culture is that I must preserve?
    I'm reacting to the above post.

    First, you state that culture is a sociological construct rather than a biological one. My point is that all constructs, even biological ones, are cultural constructs. We, human beings, come up with them to make sense of reality. Biology per se doesn't exist. You are trying to separate things that can only be separated in an ideal world.

    Second, you argue that associating race/ethnicity and culture is itself racist, because you are assigning someone a culture to someone based on their appearance rather than on their free will. Who assigns someone a culture? We have no control over acculturation. Acculturation doesn't care about free will. It's not like you go into a store and pick this or that outfit. The problem isn't that people in this world are externally different (color pigmentation, facial traits, etc.) and culturally different (customs, languages, etc.) All racial, ethnic and cultural differences aren't right or wrong. They simply are. That's evolution's design. The problem is when we create racist standards (whiter is better than... or Christianity is better than... or etc. etc.) and measure people against them. The color-blindness myth is the most racist and dangerous of all current myths.

    Third, you state that cultures are not equal, but races and ethnicities are (because you don't believe they exist). Why would you say that races and ethnicities are equal if you don't believe they exist? Why care mentioning these categories? Apparently you think that only culture and/or particular unequal cultures exist. It's confusing...

    Fourth, you state that the problem with traditional salad-bowl multiculturalism is: how do I determine what my OWN culture is that I must preserve. That would be the wrong question. The goal should be to preserve the other cultures around me and not try to transform them into my likeness (eg. the melting pot myth). The ideal is to become multicultural at an individual level, that is, you kind of absorb and relate to all cultures. We need to move toward a non-racist and more inclusive society. We need to kill the racist gnome living in all of us....

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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    Quote Originally Posted by Everness
    Some cultures have inherently inferior traits. Some cultures invade sovereign countries, kill thousands of innocent people in the process, and then torture many others.
    Yeah, but all Mongolians are NOT like Genghis Khan. Every country has done that at some time... invade, kill innocents, torture them.

    But that's not a "Mongolian trait". It's a "human trait"

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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    I do believe in violent cultures; or subcultures, to be more exact. For example, I think that war makes soldiers act more violently than they normally would. So, I think it makes sense to speak of violence as partly a result of culture.

    What I question is whether violent behaviour is inherited through one's genes. Maybe a small fraction of it, a predisposition to violence, is inherited, but I don't believe that violent behaviour is caused mostly by genetics. And I also don't believe that the fraction of the predisposition to violence which is inherited, if there is one, follows the borders of what we call "cultures".

    Why am I talking about this? In part as a reaction to the previous posts, and in part in an attempt to explain how "culture" (hence "ethnicity") can be a meaningful notion, even though "race" is not.
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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    Quote Originally Posted by djchak
    Yeah, but all Mongolians are NOT like Genghis Khan. Every country has done that at some time... invade, kill innocents, torture them.

    But that's not a "Mongolian trait". It's a "human trait"

    I was just reacting to Vince's statement:

    "But guess what? Some cultures have inherently inferior traits. Some cultures practice genital mutilation on women. Would condemning this aspect of a culture as backwards be racist against anybody? No."

    I agree with you that these traits have more to do with our human capacity to make beautiful gestures of love while also inflicting severe pain on others. If we are going to condemn mutilation, let's not stop with genital mutilation performed in black Africa but also include the mutilation that sophisticated white Western culture has carried out in Iraq...

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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    Quote Originally Posted by Everness
    I'm reacting to the above post.
    First, you state that culture is a sociological construct rather than a biological one. My point is that all constructs, even biological ones, are cultural constructs. We, human beings, come up with them to make sense of reality. Biology per se doesn't exist. You are trying to separate things that can only be separated in an ideal world.

    Second, you argue that associating race/ethnicity and culture is itself racist, because you are assigning someone a culture to someone based on their appearance rather than on their free will. Who assigns someone a culture? We have no control over acculturation. Acculturation doesn't care about free will. It's not like you go into a store and pick this or that outfit.
    If one grows up in a monocultural environment, then it is difficult to adopt another culture, e.g. it is difficult for a Spaniard to adopt Chinese culture. In that case there is not a lot of control over acculturation.

    But in a multicultural environment, there are many cultures one is exposed to, and one should be able to choose whichever culture they find most appealing and not pick one based on their genes.

    The problem isn't that people in this world are externally different (color pigmentation, facial traits, etc.) and culturally different (customs, languages, etc.) All racial, ethnic and cultural differences aren't right or wrong. They simply are. That's evolution's design.
    I don't understand what you mean by "evolution's design". We are discussing on an anthropological level, not talking about the grand universe and how we are all composed of fundamental particles interacting. On the level of human beings, I believe some customs are just wrong.

    The problem is when we create racist standards (whiter is better than... or Christianity is better than... or etc. etc.) and measure people against them. The color-blindness myth is the most racist and dangerous of all current myths.
    How is it a myth and how is it dangerous?

    Third, you state that cultures are not equal, but races and ethnicities are (because you don't believe they exist). Why would you say that races and ethnicities are equal if you don't believe they exist? Why care mentioning these categories?
    What I mean is that I acknowledge the idea of ethnicity/race but I believe that it is arbitrary and useless since it doesn't determine anything.

    Here's an analogy. Let's say someone starts a language-classification scheme. Languages are grouped into families based on what letter they start with in their English name. e.g. French would be grouped with Finnish and Farsi but not with Occitan or Wallon. Someone says that each of these language "alphabet families" are better than others. But I disagree. I acknowledge the idea and definition of alphabet families but I believe they are arbitrary and hence useless.

    Why must I mention it? Because I need to refer to a concept my interlocutors are using. e.g. in the above, I believe all alphabet families are equal.

    Fourth, you state that the problem with traditional salad-bowl multiculturalism is: how do I determine what my OWN culture is that I must preserve. That would be the wrong question. The goal should be to preserve the other cultures around me and not try to transform them into my likeness (eg. the melting pot myth). The ideal is to become multicultural at an individual level, that is, you kind of absorb and relate to all cultures. We need to move toward a non-racist and more inclusive society. We need to kill the racist gnome living in all of us....
    I agree, this would be a better multiculturalism, as I detailed in an above post. But state-sanctioned multiculturalism has been focused not on making individuals multicultural, but only in making communities multicultural. The individuals stay monocultural, and often drift toward a culture based on their physical appearance, which I believe is racism.

    Canada wants me to preserve my own culture instead of assimilating. How do I determine what my OWN culture is that I must preserve.
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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    Those circumstances you speak of are what I'm calling "culture", here.
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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    Looks like we have to agree on common definitions for culture, nationality, ethnicity, and race before we continue to debate

    For all we know, we might all have the same opinions but only appear to be disagreeing due to different understandings of what the terms mean! Haha.
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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    I've begun to suspect that terms like "ethnicity", "culture", and "multiculturalism" have different emotional resonances for each of us.
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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    Quote Originally Posted by vince
    If one grows up in a monocultural environment, then it is difficult to adopt another culture, e.g. it is difficult for a Spaniard to adopt Chinese culture. In that case there is not a lot of control over acculturation.

    But in a multicultural environment, there are many cultures one is exposed to, and one should be able to choose whichever culture they find most appealing and not pick one based on their genes.

    You are making the assumption that monocultural environments exist. I think they don't. There are no monocultural societies. There are mulitcultural societies in denial.


    I don't understand what you mean by "evolution's design". We are discussing on an anthropological level, not talking about the grand universe and how we are all composed of fundamental particles interacting. On the level of human beings, I believe some customs are just wrong.

    There's a connection between evolution and culture.

    Language is the biological link between culture and non-cultural aspects of human evolution both in its role in the development of the brain and cognition and in its continuing role, as part of brain organization and function, as the instrument for the preservation and transmission of culture from generation to generation. http://www.percepp.demon.co.uk/evltcult.htm



    How is it a myth and how is it dangerous?

    This is a short and good article on the color-blindness myth written by a psychologist.

    In my research on the causes and effects of racism, I have come to realize that color-blindness uses "whiteness" as the default key to mimic the norms of fairness, justice and equity by "whiting" out differences and perpetuating the belief in sameness. The denial of power imbalance, unearned privilege and racist domination are couched in the rhetoric of equal treatment and equal opportunity.http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...0/ai_111112046



    What I mean is that I acknowledge the idea of ethnicity/race but I believe that it is arbitrary and useless since it doesn't determine anything.

    Here's an analogy. Let's say someone starts a language-classification scheme. Languages are grouped into families based on what letter they start with in their English name. e.g. French would be grouped with Finnish and Farsi but not with Occitan or Wallon. Someone says that each of these language "alphabet families" are better than others. But I disagree. I acknowledge the idea and definition of alphabet families but I believe they are arbitrary and hence useless.

    Why must I mention it? Because I need to refer to a concept my interlocutors are using. e.g. in the above, I believe all alphabet families are equal.

    I see your point. I agree that we have to define some terms. However, I think that if you don't use the words race and ethnicity, for instance, you'll eventually come up with other words. If you are black and I'm white and we both notice the difference, there's nothing wrong with our sight. We are simply different. Racism is to act upon those differences in order to oppress other people.



    I agree, this would be a better multiculturalism, as I detailed in an above post. But state-sanctioned multiculturalism has been focused not on making individuals multicultural, but only in making communities multicultural. The individuals stay monocultural, and often drift toward a culture based on their physical appearance, which I believe is racism.

    Canada wants me to preserve my own culture instead of assimilating. How do I determine what my OWN culture is that I must preserve.

    What organized societies try to do or, at least, should try to do is to help people work on their racism. The problem is that they have to compete with families, the primary means of socialization and, in some cases, the most effective factory of racist individuals. Cultural competence is dealing with your own racist demons and putting them to rest. I'm still trying to figure out what Canada is trying to do with you but clearly it's not working. Could it be that your goal is to become the Canadian equivalent of an American male, white, middle-class individual? In America they created the yard stick against which other people --and even yourself!-- measure you. But if you happen to be a poor black or brown female with low self-esteem, you're kinda screwed.

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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    Shifting sands.

    I really don't see what the war in Iraq has to to with the original discussion.

    American politics are often B.S., but that has nothing to do with assimilation, multiculturalism, and nationality.

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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    Quote Originally Posted by Everness
    If you are black and I'm white and we both notice the difference, there's nothing wrong with our sight. We are simply different. Racism is to act upon those differences in order to oppress other people.
    It seems you still don't understand what "Race does not exist" actually means.

    If I am black and you are white, then we are really no more different, biologically, than any two random people. The "simple differences" between the two of us are really cultural -- i.e., ethnic.

    The "fact" that I am black and you are white does not come from our eyesight; it comes from our culture.
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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    Quote Originally Posted by Outsider

    The "fact" that I am black and you are white does not come from our eyesight; it comes from our culture.
    So tha "fact" that I am more likely to get sun-induced skin cancer, and you are more likely to get sickle-cell anaemia comes from our respective cultures?
    Bibo, ergo sum.

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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    1) Being black is not just about skin colour, is it?
    2) Even if it were, where do you draw the line between black and white? Contrary to what we've been trained to believe, there is no sharp border between the two extremes. You will find people in this world with skin tones ranging from the blackest Sudan all the way to the palest Sweden, without interruption. Picking a point in the spectrum and saying "Here white stops and black begins" is a subjective decision conditioned by cultural preconceptions, not an objective biological observation.
    3) The correlation between race and certain medical conditions is exaggerated by people who want to believe in race. In actual fact, black people can get sunburn and skin cancer, white people can have sickle cell anemia (with a high prevalence, in some white populations), while some black people do not have sickle cell anemia (lower prevalence in some black populations than in some white ones).
    Last edited by Outsider; 4th August 2006 at 12:35 PM.
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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    Just to remind those who have totally forgotten the thread topic...

    Do you think it's better for immigrants to be speedy, to wholeheartedly embrace as much as possible about a new culture, or to progress more gradually, and leave, in large measure, the assimilation of new country culture to the next generations? It would be especially useful to hear from those who have immigrated--permanently--to a new country.


    Please note: The paragraph above is the thread topic. Other related topics can be discussed in other threads, hence, please don't offer ideas here about whether immigration is good or bad, or matters other than rates of assimilation.
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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    Quote Originally Posted by Outsider
    I've begun to suspect that terms like "ethnicity", "culture", and "multiculturalism" have different emotional resonances for each of us.
    Yes, you're right. Actually some of us even use the words "assimilation" and "acculturation" as synonyms. Someone should come up with a list of definitions so we can really communicate!

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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    As defined by the webster dictionary:

    ethnicity
    Pronunciation: eth-'ni-s&-tE
    Function: noun
    Inflected Form(s): plural -ties
    1 : ethnic quality or affiliation <aspects of ethnicity>
    2 : a particular ethnic affiliation or group <students of diverse ethnicities>

    culture
    Pronunciation: 'k&l-ch&r
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English, cultivated land, cultivation, from Anglo-French, from Latin cultura, from cultus, past participle
    1 : CULTIVATION, TILLAGE
    2 : the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education
    3 : expert care and training <beauty culture>
    4 a : enlightenment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training b : acquaintance with and taste in fine arts, humanities, and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills
    5 a : the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time <popular culture> <southern culture> c : the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization <a corporate culture focused on the bottom line> d : the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic <studying the effect of computers on print culture> <changing the culture of materialism will take time -- Peggy O'Mara>
    6 : the act or process of cultivating living material (as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient media; also : a product of such cultivation http://webster.com/images/pixt.gif

    multicultural
    Pronunciation: "m&l-tE-'k&lch-r&l, -"tI-, -'k&l-ch&-
    Function: adjective
    : of, relating to, reflecting, or adapted to diverse cultures <a multicultural society> <multicultural education> <a multicultural menu>

    as·sim·i·la·tion
    Pronunciation: &-"si-m&-'lA-sh&n
    Function: noun
    1 a : an act, process, or instance of assimilating b : the state of being assimilated
    2 : the incorporation or conversion of nutrients into protoplasm that in animals follows digestion and absorption and in higher plants involves both photosynthesis and root absorption
    3 : change of a sound in speech so that it becomes identical with or similar to a neighboring sound <the usual assimilation of \z\ to \sh\ in the phrase his shoe>
    4 : the process of receiving new facts or of responding to new situations in conformity with what is already available to consciousness http://webster.com/images/pixt.gif

    ac·cul·tur·a·tion
    Pronunciation: &-"k&l-ch&-'rA-sh&n, a-
    Function: noun
    1 : cultural modification of an individual, group, or people by adapting to or borrowing traits from another culture; also : a merging of cultures as a result of prolonged contact
    2 : the process by which a human being acquires the culture of a particular society from infancy http://webster.com/images/pixt.gif
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    Re: "Melting pot" Assimilation, Multiculturalism

    ethnicity links to ethnic, so here's its definition:

    Webster's Dictionary:

    ethnic
    Main Entry: 1eth·nic http://webster.com/images/audio.gif
    Pronunciation: 'eth-nik
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin ethnicus, from Greek ethnikos national, gentile, from ethnos nation, people; akin to Greek Ethos custom -- more at SIB
    1 : HEATHEN
    2 a : of or relating to large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background <ethnic minorities> <ethnic enclaves> b : being a member of a specified ethnic group <an ethnic German> c : of, relating to, or characteristic of ethnics <ethnic neighborhoods> <ethnic foods>

    ---
    From the definition, you can see how arbitrary ethnicity is
    sometimes it's defined by race, sometimes it's defined by nation, sometimes by culture, sometimes by background.
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