Does assimilation cause someone to lose her or his personal identity?
Question: Does assimilation cause someone to lose her or his personal identity?
What We Give Up with Assimilation?
Assimilation is an imperative measure of growing and becoming familiar with another culture, but it also comes with a negative side such as losing one’s own culture, tradition, and identity (Moran 168). There are individuals who choose to keep to themselves, determining to mix with different cultures as little as possible. On the other hand, there are individuals who tend to assimilate with another culture so utterly that they embrace the other culture’s employment, educational opportunities, and political positions similar to non-immigrants but lose their own personal identity. One of the greatest movies illustrating such a case – Amreeka – demonstrates the pressures of assimilation and how this influences them as well as how Palestinians immigrants identify themselves. When a newcomer absorbs the cultural norms, values, beliefs, and behavior patterns of a different society, they start focusing or attempting so hard to assimilating into the new society that it breaks down their own native culture, traditions and harms their personal identity. Therefore, this paper seeks to elaborate how assimilation causes one to lose their personal identity by highlighting and illustrating cases from the movie Amreeka.
First, assimilation aids in the loss of an individual’s personal identity by pioneering the loss of the original culture – making one to forget and forego their culture. While assimilating into a new life structure, individuals slowly forget their native society’s culture by embracing a new culture. The movie – through the main character Fadi; a high school teenager – explores how assimilating into a new society weakens the character’s connection to his native culture. When an individual comes from a different learning style because of their family culture, it is quite difficult for the individual to take advantage of the opportunities available to them (Michalski 22). This makes the individual to assimilate into the new environment, which makes them to lose their native cultures. Schools, universities, and colleges frequently lean towards the practice of a learning style dependent on what fits with mainstream society. The curriculum gives importance to those students who are able to adapt to that culture. Indeed, even students who don’t adjust to the new culture become excluded by this practice which frequently leads to poor grades, lower test scores, and less overall student perfoemance. In the movie ‘‘Amreeka” Muna’s sister Raghda says that “She does not want her daughters running around like American girls, drinking, doing drugs or so on”. But her daughter Salma says to her, “We live in America, we are American, and we should act like Americans”. There is a clear difference between the first and second generation here and in the degree to which they have assimilated and believed in the American culture, language, and standards which have weakened their connection to their native cultures. In the movie, Fadi’s cousins also support him in dressing and acting more like an American so that he can assimilate easily. After trying to blend in to the American culture, he started acting in a different way with his mother and started hating his mother’s cashier job in White Castle. If Fadi continued to conform completely to the American culture he might lose his own culture slowly.
Additionally, assimilation is a means through which an individual’s personal identity can be erased due to significant losses in the original tradition as well as empowerment of another tradition – which tends to change a person’s character. Assimilation makes people lose personal identity by empowering new traditions and culture (Berry 69). In the movie Amreeka, Fadi’s colleagues treated him in a different way. He becomes disappointed in how he and his Mother are treated in America and finds himself in a bad position. His irritation reaches a crucial stage and he never thought that moving to America to be so troublesome. At that point, if he tried to assimilate into the American tradition completely, he might lose his own tradition. What is appropriate for one family isn’t constantly suitable for other people, even during the progress of another new tradition. Even though families may intact while assimilating into new societies, there is no guarantee that they will retain their native tradition. Imagine a whole community that celebrates Christmas, and then an immigrant family presents theirs owns festivals of Dashain. Would every other person begin to appreciate the new traditions? No, so the new family members ignore their personal tradition to unite with the majority. Without some knowledge on assimilation, assimilating in a negative way might be harmful as it will become the cause of someone to lose their own traditions.
Similarly, assimilation causes a major loss in personal identity due to the complete loss of an individual’s culture – which arouses certain feelings and thoughts that changes one’s personal identity. Therefore, a deep feeling of loss of an individual’s personal identity may result from the loss of the native cultures and traditions. Assimilation may lead to people losing their values, customs, native music, and even their specific food. Similarly, some people may also lose social positions, important relationships because of the assimilation to a different cultures and traditions. Individual involves enormous losses of loved elements in the abandoned cultures and traditions such as the familiar patterns of being and connecting to people which results in loss of personal identity as well. Assimilating to new cultures and traditions including new values and beliefs that may affect the improvement of one’s personal identity. In the movie Amreeka, if Fadi tried to become more like Americans he would have lost his native Palestinian culture and traditions, which would have resulted in him losing his own personal identity. Therefore, assimilating into another culture increases the chances of one changing their personal identity because of the combination of new traditions and cultures.
In conclusion, assimilation diminishes of one’s cultures, traditions and personal identity, which lead to dependence on another culture through learning new traditions and new ways of thinking. It seems to require a total change by the immigrant group which must drop the mainstream of its original culture to adjust with host society’s majority group. It is very important to know that culture is directly associated with our identity. Our cultural beliefs and values are shared and shape our individuality in significant ways. Culture is learned through the place we experience childhood in. So, when leaving culture behind and need to experience new social-cultural systems and implications, it can be troublesome and can feel like a loss of identity. As we assimilate to another culture we may feel like we’re losing our old culture. Consider how you may feel in the condition that you were never again associated with the language, religion, or beliefs that you grew up knowing.
Berry, John W. “Acculturation and adaptation in a new society.” International migration 30 (1992): 69-85.
Michalski, Konrad. “Learning styles and blended learning: Challenges and opportunities in distance education environment.” E-Learn: World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2008.
Moran, Anthony. “White Australia, settler nationalism and Aboriginal assimilation.” Australian Journal of Politics & History 51.2 (2005): 168-193.