ASSIMILATION, ACCULTURATION, AND THE CHINESE IMMIGRANT
The thesis of this paper is that it is wrong, perhaps even immoral, for Chinese immigrants to assimilate into American society to such an extent that they lose pride in their own ethnicity. Some history is helpful in terms of understanding this thesis. The Chinese have been immigrating to America since the 1800s when they were attracted by the gold rush in California (Chang, 2004: 38-52).
However, once in the United States, they encountered many problems, most of which were associated with racism and discrimination. For example, during the gold rush, violence was used against the Chinese to deprive them of their mining sites (Chang: 38-45). As a result of these hardships, Chinese pushed harder to assimilate and, as a result, often suffered a loss of their self-identity, great self-doubt, and other psychoemotional problems (Miscevic & Kwong, 2000: 44-82). It is the contention of this paper that a substantial part of this suffering was the attempt to assimilate which can lead to a loss of self-esteem, ethnic pride, and other psychological and emotional problems for Chinese immigrants.
Effects of Assimilation on Chinese Immigrants
There is a substantial body of research indicating that strenuous efforts to assimilate into American culture can lead to negative outcomes for Chinese immigrants. For example, in a study by Lieber, Chin, Nihira and Mink (2001: 247-261) in which 83 Chinese immigrants were extensively surveyed for information regarding acculturation, Asian identity, and quality of life, findings showed that the acculturation process generated high levels of stress. In particular, it was noted that while Chinese immigrants are a cultural group with collectivist values, they are called upon to integrate and assimilate into a highly individuated nation and the effort to do this can cause a great deal of harm.
With respect to the foregoing, Lieber, Chin, Nihir...