Thursday, May 26, 2005

Mestizaje as an Alternative to Assimilation

To most citizens of the USA, to be 'American' is be assimilated into the dominant Anglo culture (67% of the total US population right now, with an estimated drop to about 50% in the next 30-40 years). While everyone acknowledges that we are a nation of immigrants, with a multitude of cultural and ethnic backgrounds coming from Europe to Asia to African and from Latin America, the paradigm of 'melting pot' has lost its appeal to many immigrants who make this country their home from the 4 corners of the world.

While accepting the reality that English is our official language, and that the American (I hate using American with qualifying it with 'north', because the USA is only a small part of the Americas) way of doing business has been the norm, many of our mestizo citizens of the USA are now raising a new paradigm to describe our multi-cultural, multi-demensional, pluralistic nation: the paradigm of tapestry, where particular strands of cloth and material are interwoven to create a vibrant piece of art. In the same way, while united as a nation, we are enriched by the myriad of multi-colored strands that are woven together, each distinct in its make up, but unmistakably part of the same tapestry.

Mestizaje is the process of creation. The interdependence. The learning to embrace and appreciate every culture and class. The pain of making mistakes. The sorrow of being misunderstood before reaching common ground. The possibility of losing ultimate power for the sake of justice. Mestizaje is raw.

Yet, with all of the challenges that mestizaje brings, it also represents hope that every citizen will be fully embraced as a full-fledged, mestizo North American who loves his or her adopted country in all its diverse splendor.


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