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 Assimilation or Multi-culturalism: That is the Question 
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Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:47 pm
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Post Assimilation or Multi-culturalism: That is the Question
by: Donna Poisl

Maybe we need a combination of the two.

What does it mean to be American? Does it mean everyone talks the same and looks the same and believes the same things? Does it mean forgetting everything that our parents and grandparents had to go through to get to this country? Does it mean forgetting all the customs and foods and stories they were raised with?

Wouldn't that be awfully hard to do? And wouldn't this be a boring place to live?

This country was a huge land with very few inhabitants and then people from all parts of the world left their own homes and troubles and came here with one goal: to make a better life for their families than they could have in their homeland. They were the entrepreneurs, the hard working, stubborn, brave people who came with nothing and made something of themselves. In the process they built a great country for us.

George Washington said in 1783 that our borders were open for the wealthy and educated and oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions, who were free to participate in all our rights and privileges – if these newcomers followed American standards of decency and proper conduct. He wanted them to assimilate to their new country's values. And most of them did. Most of these European immigrants considered themselves Americans and never saw their homelands or families again. This was mainly because travel to Europe was difficult, not because the new country insisted on it, although it made assimilation easier to accomplish.

The goal used to be for all immigrants of different backgrounds to "melt" into a new race of people. During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, this ideal was challenged when we were encouraged to celebrate diversity and move beyond this melting pot. Assimilation was changed to multi-culturalism.

Multi-culturalism is promoted by many, but it doesn't give the people a common goal, belief or even language anymore. Many of the immigrants here now have no knowledge ofrate problem households including criminals in excluded sub-societies. The large numbers of children and youths brought together will tend to forming gangs that may be a mere nuisance or become more seriously criminal. Of course these problems are not confined only to big estates, wherever there are concentrations of poor families then children with little indoors will take to the streets and form street-gang sub-cultures.

Developed countries' social exclusion policies, by government and by social housing landlords and other bodies, will hence often need to especially address areas housing large numbers of low-income families. However, those expected to produce such social inclusion policies will generally be educated professionals with little or no experience of living in social exclusion housing, and they may commonly have correct general theories but often be missing the correct practical detail needed. Consultation with less educated low-incomed renters themselves is likely to help only to a limited extent, and those dealing with social exclusion housing need to find the tiny handful of street-wise affordable housing professionals who somehow do happen to have substantial experience of themselves living in and raising a family in such low-income housing.

The UK is now making some limited attempts to copy the equally limited US Hope VI scheme to convert big bad estate areas to a mix of the unemployed, low-income earners and the better-off. But this sort of housing inclusion move needs other non-housing inclusion policies to be also addressed at the same time or they are doomed to failure. The poor will have some good ideas on practical solutions, but poor housing areas are also likely to have an occasional housing professional resident. It is undoubtedly preferable if all big new housing developments are tenanted more reasonably, as by including a mix of some affordable rent units, some sale units and some market rent or near market rent units. Existing big social housing renting estates will often need to be made mixed tenure and often also need to have the proportion of unemployed households reduced.

The management and policing of poor housing areas is often inappropriate, basically taking t

Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:24 am
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