Yggdrasill wrote:Verv, I'm not trying to insert yourself in your tete a tete with SO, but I can't help comment on a couple of things you wrote.
Oh no, thank you
for doing so. I wrote that hoping that there would be discussion around it, and feel better knowing that you read what I had wrote and are taking it seriously.
I must apologize that I have made such a long reply.
1. Your definition of "historic American" leaves out Aboriginal Americans. Wouldn't you consider them to be historic?
Yes, by design. Of course, in the sense that they are the original inhabitants and have lived here for thousands & thousands of years before Europeans, they are certainly the oldest & most historic peoples in America.
But both the Left & Right can acknowledge that they were on the receiving end
of America, the country, for a long time, and were incorporated much later into the American system. Even still, due to reservations, they still remain semi-autonomous.
It's a sad reality but they do not actively factor into the defining of America and, even after being more integrated into our society and contributing much to it in the post-WWII era, they're numerically less relevant than even Asian-Americans (20 million versus 6 million, roughly), and are thus low visibility.
When we look at historic demographics, the US is historically 88% white and 10-11% black, with the remaining being miscellaneous other groups. The sources say the US was 1.2% Hispanic in 1920, and 3.2% in 1960 [1
If Bulgaria is historically 1-2% gypsy, should we think of Romania as a country whose history is colored by gypsies? Not really so much -- we would think of it as a nation of its core ethnic groups that has a gypsy population.
Just as such, historically the US is not a nation defined by its groups that are extreme minorities, and a shift of Hispanics in 50 years from 3.2% to 16% (a 500% increase, roughly) is not really organic.
Romania today is 3.3% gypsy [2
]. If Romania became 16% gypsy by 2070, people would wonder what happened?
, and we would not immediately think that this means Romanian culture and gypsy culture are just interchangeable aspects of the same identity, and we would not think of the Romani language as the historic language of the Romanian people.
2. I challenge the notion that American culture has ever been fixed or uniform. Mexican American culture has been part of the American mosaic since we took Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah (now dominated by Mormon culture) and parts of western Colorado from Mexico. I can think of a number of immigrant groups who have persisted in their cultural identity in ways that enhance the diversity of the country: religious communities such as the Amish, Hasidic and Orthodox Jews, Cajun, (some) Chinese immigrants communities. There are others that don't come to mind immediately.
I've covered some of the Hispanic stuff... But to emphasize this: the Hispanic population in the American west that just carried over after the 1840s appears to be exceptionally small. Of course, it wasn't non-existent, but the settling of the West was done by regular historic Americans more than Hispanics. We should never ignore
the fact that they were here, but it is just a fact that the Hispanic people did not comprise more than even 5% of the population until some point in the 1970s.
As far as unique communities... Yes, definitely the Amish, the Cajuns, unique Jewish groups, etc., exist, and are a part of the landscape, and are not to be ignored. But a person who speaks Pennsylvania Dutch at home and doesn't use electricity isn't part of the American culture -- they have their own culture.
I think that, to understand Asian-Americans, you must understand their home countries & how much they are different from them.
Korean-Americicans, as in the second generation, are rarely very Korean.
You would think that some of these people like Suey Park or Sarah Jeong who have developed names as having an Asian identity as Americans would be quite Korean, but it is not the case. They focus on American issues from intersectionalist perspectives that are completely outside of the Korean political spectrum, and no Korean would relate themselves back to the society in political commentary in a way like that.
It stirred controversy in Korea when Kim Oh-jun made snide comments about poor Koreans still insisting on the rights of private property - even though owning no homes themselves!
, and it absolutely scandalized the country when Tak Hyeonmin wrote a book graphically describing his sexual coming of age (a book that was basically banned)...
Awkwafina talking about 'my vag' and Sarah Jeong cheering on the deaths of white children with cancer are pretty unconscionable, and the inspiration behind these things would not coem from any Asian aspect of their culture.
So, the Asian-American is an American,
with few exceptions; this often means that Asian-Americans integrate into typical WASP culture (hell, many Vietnamese, Hmong, Filipinos, and Koreans are already Christian) and intermarry with historic Americans. Or, even more commonly, they integrate into the newest sociological structure: secular white culture.
We may balk at using the word white
here, but it is not really my choice -- everyone in Western academia talks about the distinctiveness of 'whiteness' and its domination of institutions, and Asians talk abou their own status as a 'model minority' and sins of integrating with whiteness. I think that this is a catgory that is impossibel to escape.
3. There's a difference between losing one's cultural identity and that identity changing over time. No culture in contact with other cultures - either directly or through the internet and the media - can persist unchanged. Good luck controlling ideas, art, music, etc. No one can take your cultural identity from you, but neither can you guarantee that your grandchildren will share all the same culture values that you do.
Yes, you are right, defintelly right.
I would say we saw WASP culture split into what amounts to Evangelical
culture and Secular liberal
culture, with all whites and many Asians & Hispanics breaking off into one or the other, and black American culture I am sure has its own distinctions which I am not qualified to talk about.
However, there is a root; the root can be returned to. The new developments can be sheered off and the tree can survive.
The Russians had a Soviet culture... and then, one day, like a miracle, it was gone, and the Russian culture returned.