Monday, January 17, 2005

Assimilation versus Integration

Today was a national holiday commemerating the life and ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King. Knox sponsered a convecation in honor of the event, where speakers came and spoke on various issues relating therein. The speaches were on God and Social Movements, Knox's legacy, multicultural education, and the last was selected poems on Dr. King. It was all quite moving. I was nearly brought to tears on the God and Social Movements speach. So much of it rang true with me, and it was surprising to hear a message in such a form at a very left-of-center, humanistic institution such as Knox.

However hearing all this has spurred some thought. Malcom X's main critisism of Dr. Kings policy of integration is that it would only lead to assimilation, that is minorities would be sucked in the the culture of the majority, losing there cultural roots. Now, while I am not an anti-integrationist and on the contrary see integration as a very rich and positive achievement, I feel there is a certain degree of validity to Malcom X's statements. To a certain extent with education, and integration a culture gets assimulated into the mass of america. I for one am almost 100% swedish, yet retain only a small degree of swedish culture and heritage. Are we a salad bowl, or a cup of soup? I for one see the salad as more enriching to society.

Here is another question, though we are as a whole losing our cultural roots, and may experience a degree of nakedness. We are becoming something else. American, and hold on a second before we jump on the bandwagon to bash american culture. I am not propegating capitalist imperialism here, I am talking about something deeper. American, I dont know what that will come to mean, but it is unfolding.


At 8:51 AM, Blogger travis said...

Maybe both assimilation and the carrying of cultural roots are choices and practices one carries out. I'm not sure. It seems that assimilation and cultural practices/identity are up to a person and the family they're raised in more than it is up to an institution (even if the institution is pushing assimilation).
Maybe the avoidance of personal responsibility for choices has caused us to place responsibility for assimilation and loss of our roots onto others.
Just my thoughts at the moment. Not necessarily a concrete belief. What do you think?

At 4:51 PM, Blogger Bryan said...


What do you mean by personal responsiblity in a cultural context. Please elablorate, I am a bit confused.

At 12:11 PM, Blogger travis said...

Personal responsibility, in a cultural context would be each individual is responsible for maintaining their cultural identity. They may be involved in a certain movement, institution, or even another culture, but they are responsible for maintaining their cultural identity, or living with a "feet in two worlds."
For example, it is your responsibility to choose whether or not you learn about your identity as a Swede and practice cultural practices. The same with me and being Irish and German. If we don't learn about our cultural roots and practice our culture, we have made a decision to "lose" our hereditary identity, or the practice of it. One's "Christian" identity woud be the same. You can call yourself that, but if you are doing nothing to learn about your identity, or nothing to live out your identity, it's only a name. It's a personal choice what to learn about and practice.
Hope that makes sense and sheds a little more light on what I shared.

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Bryan said...


While I completly agree with you, I also feel that government responses and societal changes greatly affect the behavior of people. That was my concern.

At 10:17 PM, Blogger Shadow Crescent Knight said...

The Borg Assimilate thats all I know about Assimilation, oh and by the way resistance is Futile!

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Shadow Crescent Knight said...

No ummm seriously man I think that government has something to do with it as far as what cultural background might be present to represent the public in part. But the relection from those in governmental positions are by no means diverse given exception ofcourse. Just think of the way that many got their they had money. Where can you get money from, from being upper class white collar background or emerging businessmab in that societal class. So this can go for all classes. But really the way to make in America money wise is to Assimilate, to be part of the accepted norm. Thats really how the winners make it. You can't get anywhere really by sticking to your roots. Because it will go against a survival mode of all americans in this sense. Like my people the irish decided it was not right to hold on to their cultural heritage because it was not cultural accepted to be that way. They could not survive long without trying to be someone they were really not. So in order to find jobs during the great irish migration they tried to fit in to secure some sort of welfare for themselves.
Although I find lately this is not the case all the times now, now it seems that segregation is utilized key for both foreigner and natives as we see the ever present white settler wanting to move out into open wide spaces away from the city and all those scary minorites hahaha. Agghh suburbanism don't you love it. I do because thats how I get so much money to go to school because of all those rich white living in the suburbs hahha. Anyway so I kind was a little insensitive, but I do like cracking jokes atthe sometimes obvious. Do know that I do try and take an objective point of view. I believe that integration of ideas is not an American value because America is business plain and simple. Well not so much plain and not always simple but you get what I am trying to say.


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