Ethnic Diversity The United States is ethnically diverse Germans are the largest ancestral group o 1/6 th of Americans said they had at least some German ancestry Germany is one of twenty-one European nations from which at least 1 million people claim to have ancestry
Immigration from Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Poland
Why Don’t We Study Whiteness? Two aspects of White as race are to be considered: o The historical creation of whiteness o How contemporary White people reflect on their racial identity Established English immigrants, as the political founders of the U.S., came to define what it meant to be White o White Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASP) Other groups regarded as White today were not always considered White in the eyes of the English o Irish, Germans, Norwegians, and Swedes o Irish viewed by English as socially and culturally inferior
As European immigrants and their descendants assimilated and distanced themselves from other oppressed groups such as American Indians and African Americans, they came to be viewed as White Transparent racial divide of the South during slavery allowed ignorance of how Whiteness was constructed Whites don’t think of themselves as a race or have a conscious racial identity Contemporary White Americans give little thought to “being White” o Little interest in studying “Whiteness” or considering “being White” except that it is “not being Black”
White Privilege The social identity of Whiteness exists if one enjoys the privilege of being White Peggy McIntosh – study on the privilege of being white o Considered financially reliable o Taking a job and your race is not questioned (anonymity) o Never having to speak for all or represent all of one’s race o Seeing one’s race represented widely in the media o Race does not work against you in court or medical care etc.
The Rediscovery of Ethnicity Principle of third generation interest Marcus Hansen (1952) What the son wishes to forget the grandson wishes to remember Hansen’s contention that ethnic interest and awareness increase in the third generation, among the grandchildren of immigrants The civil rights movement played a role in reinvigorating Whites about their ethnic heritage o White ethnics (Irish, Poles, Germans, Italians, etc.,) only a half step above Blacks in social status, viewed this emerging consciousness as working for them also Today’s growing popularity of genealogy – researching your family tree or history o Ancestry.com
Symbolic Ethnicity Expressions of ethnicity involving symbols of one’s cultural heritage Much of ethnicity today is expressed symbolically o Food Irish stew, paczki, sauerkraut, gnocchi o Clothing kilts, lederhosen, kerchiefs, sarafans, wooden shoes o Festivals and holidays Oktoberfest, St. Patrick’s Day, San Gennaro Day o Ethnic organizations Emerald Society, Sons of Poland, National Italian American Foundation, Independent Order of Vikings o Supporting specific political issues or issues confronting the old country
Ethnicity that does exist may be more a result of living in the U.S. than importing practices from the past or old country o participate to reconnect with an ethnic past they never actually experienced Ethnicity Paradox o Maintaining ethnicity can be a critical step toward successful assimilation Facilitates full entry into the dominant culture through economic and psychological strength and positive self- esteem Ethnicity gives continuity with the past in the form of an affective or emotional tie
The Prejudice of Ethnics White ethnics have often been portrayed as bigoted hard hats o the bastion of blue collar racism – dominating labor and industry o Ethnic neighborhoods and racial conflicts White Ethnics have distinguished themselves from both Blacks and White Anglo-Saxon Protestants o Catholics, Orthodox, Jews White ethnics have been antagonistic to African Americans o economic competition o attempts to ally themselves with socially dominate, upper class whites
The German Americans
In the late 1700s religious dissenters from Germany arrived to the United States People with German ancestry were roughly 10% of the population in 1800s in the United States mid-1800s not enough viable farming land and available work in Germany led to more emigration o attracted by free land grants in America during the 19 th century many German men left to avoid military conscription
Twentieth-Century German America Fought in World War I and World War II o fighting against the Fatherland o faced suspicion and bigotry during the war years Post-World War II, many East Germans escaped to the democratic west (including the U.S.) during the Cold War period of communist control In the last ten years, immigrants from Germany have been 5,000 to 10,000 people annually
The Irish Americans
Diversity based on o Time of entry o Settlement area o Religion Fled not for a better life but from certain death o Potato crop failure and famine Reawakened old religious hatreds in the dominant New English aristocracy o memories of their treatment back in Ireland at the hands of the dominant Protestant British
According to dominant Whites, Irish worse than Blacks, because unlike slaves or freed Blacks, who “knew their place,” the Irish did not suffer their maltreatment in silence Employers mixed immigrant groups to prevent unified action by the laborers Began to experience slow advancement as “white” identity overcame “immigrant” status Past issues with immigration led to Irish support of protests for procedures to allow illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship
The Italian Americans
Concentrated not only in time but in geography Received their jobs through ethnic labor contractors – Padrone Catholic church very important to their lives With assimilation began constructing a social identity as a national group and successfully became indistinguishable from other Whites Controversial aspect involved organized crime as typified by Al Capone ( ) Characterization as criminals, even in the mass media, is another example of respectable bigotry o glorified/vilified in film and TV - The Godfather, Goodfellas, Sopranos
Current popular shows promote the exaggerated personality and behavior of Italian-Americans (Guidos) Jersey Shore Immigration was slowed by the National Origins System o Italians considered “new immigrants” and faced tighter quotas Even becoming educated did not ward off prejudice Politically, Italian Americans have been more successful, at least at the local level, where family and community could translate to votes Geraldine Ferraro, 1 st Italian to get a cabinet position
Constructing Social Identity Among Italian Immigrants Over time, Italian Americans moved from seeing themselves in terms of their provincial or village identity, and then they successfully became indistinguishable from other Whites.
Experience similar to Irish and Italians Primary reason for their exodus was changing political status of Poland Had to adjust to a new culture and urban way of life Predominant in coal-mining occupations, which paid little and were dangerous Polonia -meaning Polish American o More common in Midwest cities such as Chicago
Religion played an important role among immigrants and their descendants Jewish-Catholic distinction was most distinguishing factor among Polish Americans o Other divisions are Kashubes and Mazurians Made use of a rich structure of self-help voluntary associations Stigmatized as outsiders and stereotyped as simple and uncultured Many have retained little of their cultural tradition
Religious Pluralism Pluralism used in US to refer explicitly to religion The United States reflects a society based on religious pluralism Over 1,500 religious groupings o Denominations o Sects o Cults In 1900: o Ninety six percent of the nation was Christian o One percent was non-religious o Three percent was of other faiths In 2001 o Seventy-six percent of the nation was Christian o Fourteen percent was non-religious o Four to six percent was of other religions
Diversity of beliefs, rituals, and experiences reflects nation’s immigrant heritage and First Amendment prohibition against a state religion The vast majority of religious people belong to a denomination Denomination is defined as a large formally organized church or churches not officially linked to the State Four non-Christian religious groups in US whose numbers are comparable to any large denomination o Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus all number more than 1 million
One notable characteristic of religious practice in the US is its segregated nature at the local level Legacy of racism in religious expression leads to segregation in worship that allows churches to be identified as Black or White Even with broad representation, tendency is homogenous Religion in the US is an ever-changing phenomenon
Racial and Ethnic Makeup of Selected Religions in the U.S. “Other” includes self-identified mixed race. Evangelical includes Baptist, Lutheran, and Pentecostal among others. Mainline Protestant includes Methodist, Lutheran (ELCA), Presbyterian, Episcopal, and United Church of Christ, among others, but excludes historically Black Churches.
Income and Denominations Denominations attract different income groups. All groups have both affluent and poor members, yet some have a higher proportion of members with high incomes while others are comparatively poor.
Education and Denominations There are sharp differences in the proportion of those with some college education by denomination.
Religion in the United States Civil Religion o The religious dimension in US life that merges the state with sacred beliefs Robert Bellah (1967) o The emergence of civil religion - the interrelationship between the State (Secular) and sacred beliefs Functionalists view religion as reinforcing central American values that may be more patriotic than sacred
Diversity Among Roman Catholics Social scientists tended to ignore diversity within the Roman Catholic Church in US Roman Catholic Church experienced growth through Latin America immigration Despite its ethnic diversity, has been a powerful force in reducing ethnic ties of its members, making it a significant force in assimilation
Diversity Among Protestants Often portrayed as a monolithic entity Sharp differences in religious attitudes Four “generic theological camps” o Liberals: Unitarians, United Church of Christ (Congregationalists), and Episcopalians o Moderates: Disciples of Christ, Methodists, and Presbyterians o Conservatives: American Lutherans and American Baptists o Fundamentalists: Missouri Synod Lutherans, Southern Baptists, and Assembly of God
Women and Religion Religious beliefs have often placed women in an exalted but protected position Exception in the United States o Christian Science church Majority of practitioners and readers are women Largest denomination, Roman Catholicism, does not allow women to be priests Largest Protestant denomination, Southern Baptist Convention, voted against ordaining women Women play a significant role as volunteers Notable rise in female clergy in last 20 years Women continue to face sexism after ordination
Religion and the U.S. Supreme Court Religious pluralism owes its existence to the First Amendment FOUR ISSUES: o 1. Issue over prayer in school o 2. Secessionist minorities o 3. Creationism and intelligent design o 4. Public display of religious symbols
Secessionist Minorities o In conflict with the rest of society in that they reject assimilation and coexistence in some form of cultural pluralism o Amish o Native Americans o Polygamists Creationists o People who support the literal interpretation of the Bible and have formed various organizations to crusade for creationist treatment in schools and universities
Edwards v Aguillard (1987) o Ruled that states may not require the teaching of creationism alongside evolution in public schools if the primary purpose of such legislation is to promote a religious viewpoint Intelligent Design o The idea that life is so complex it could only have been created by a higher intelligence Supporters advocate a more accurate account than Darwinism o Kitzmiller v. Dove Area School District Judge found intelligent design to be a religious belief
Limits of Religious Freedom: The Amish Practice self-segregation Yoder v. Wisconsin (1972) o Allowed Wisconsin Amish to escape prosecution from laws that required parents to send their children to school to age 18 Conflict theorists observe that as long as the Amish remained totally apart from dominant society in the US, they experienced little hostility
Rumspringa o “Running Around” Young Amish test their subculture’s boundaries during a period of discovery Attend barn dances where taboos like drinking, smoking, and driving cars are commonly broken Growing area of Amish-English clashes is over young Amish children working as laborers Old Order Amish developed a pluralistic position that has become increasingly difficult to maintain as their numbers grow and they enter the economy in competition with the English or non-Amish