Given the advanced state of commerce, technology, and communications in the 21st century, people from diverse ethnic backgrounds find themselves interacting with each other more so than perhaps any other time in modern history. Therefore, the issue of ethnic pluralism-the harmonious interaction and merging of divergent cultures (Stournaras, 2005) has become critically important. In this essay, the question of what would have to happen in the United States, both individually and institutionally, for a positive form of ethnic pluralism to flourish in the 21st century will be answered as well as what an individual could contribute to this cause.
Upon conclusion of the essay, these issues will have been thoroughly discussed. Ethnic Pluralism in the United States in Perspective Over the past several decades, political unrest as well as the relaxation of travel restrictions in many nations has led to the immigration, legal and illegal of millions of people into the United States, leading to much controversy due to the many implications of this immigration, including the rights of those who enter the U. S. illegally, the process by which they are granted actual citizenship, and the like. Indeed, before positive ethnic pluralism can expand in the U.
S. , the question of the rights of immigrants is a key area to be addressed, among others. Within the context of the current situation in the U. S. , possible scenarios for positive ethnic pluralism can be considered. Suppression of Conflict In a large sense, much of the cause of discord among various ethnic groups is caused by conflict, meaning that people from different ethnic groups do not understand one another in a variety of ways, which leads to false attitudes about other groups, which fosters mistrust, and ultimately, verbal and/or physical altercations among the ethnicities (Macionis, 2004).
At the risk of sounding glib, conflict must be suppressed in order for ethnic pluralism to succeed. One of the most effective ways to foster ethnic pluralism is the advocacy of various forms of assimilation. Assimilation Considered Cutting away all of the political rhetoric, misconceptions and outright lies about ethnic pluralism, perhaps the best way to promote a positive form of ethnic harmony in the 21st century is to consider the use of a variety of assimilation methods, which are meant to help ethnic groups to peacefully work together for the betterment of society, or in this case, the U.
S. as a whole. There are several main types of assimilation that could be useful with this end in mind (Blake, 2003) : Cultural Assimilation: This form of assimilation represents perhaps the pinnacle of ethnic pluralism, whereby one ethnic group adopts the language, culture, customs, beliefs and other traits of another group. Cultural Assimilation is something that has been advocated by Americans in terms of immigrants embracing American culture, which in itself has been created by a form of assimilation. When ethnic groups share commonalities in this way, much of the onflict is defeated, making possible the type of harmony and peaceful interaction which is the focus of this paper. Structural Assimilation: When assimilation takes place on the structural level, ethnic groups share common values, legal criteria and standards of behavior and societal norms. This helps to foster a civil, ethnically diverse society. Biological Assimilation: Represents the ultimate stage in the assimilation process, whereby ethic groups interrelate, generating offspring that are of various ethnicities from a genetic viewpoint.
Indeed, this has taken place in the U. S. for hundreds of years, but by doing so within the framework of harmony and understanding, this will be viewed as a positive rather than a negative. Psychological Assimilation: Perhaps the pinnacle of assimilation, the psychological element embodies the various cultural groups developing the same mindset about issues, norms, standards, high morality, and so forth. This assimilation is helped along by the other types of assimilation, and is perhaps the gathering point for all of them.
When various ethnic groups are thinking and feeling the same emotionally, as long as those thoughts and feelings are of a positive and non-violent nature, the results can be amazingly wonderful. Perhaps the most accurate statement to make regarding the proliferation of positive ethnic pluralism is that first, the barriers of mistrust, hatred and conflict must be lowered if any exchange of ideas or thoughts is to take place.
With the barrier lowered so to speak, the previously mentioned types of assimilation can be allowed to take root, and ultimately, blossom into the type of ethnic harmony that the U. S. is in need of today more so than ever, especially considering the threat of domestic terrorism, which can only be defeated if a strong domestic situation exists. How Individuals can Contribute to Positive Ethnic Pluralism For all of the broad based concepts that have been discussed in order to foster ethnic pluralism in the U. S. the question of how individuals can contribute to positive ethnic pluralism also needs to be answered. With a strong grass roots support base in place, ethnic pluralism can certainly be positively grown. Americans must not be afraid to go against political opposition to assimilation (Wagner, 1986) but should follow their own conscience. The common denominator in the individual’s contribution to ethnic harmony is education, or more precisely the dismissal of the stereotypes, prejudice and outright ignorance that many ethnic groups have about other groups.
When it is universally understood that fundamentally, all ethnic groups are the same, an open dialogue can exist for ethnic cooperation. Following the education of the individuals within ethnic groups, the open dialogue that was mentioned earlier should take place. This could perhaps be best accomplished by individuals communicating with members of other groups to learn about their culture and mindset. This will also dispel many myths and prejudices.
With an open dialogue, the individual should pursue assimilation as earlier explained; from the positive actions of a few, entire groups prosper and benefit, thereby achieving positive ethnic pluralism. Conclusion In this paper, various scenarios to promote peaceful ethnic pluralism have been presented and explained. As the U. S. continues to grow and diversify, the concepts laid out in this paper will become more and more valuable, and must be practiced if the nation is to mature and change for the better.