Immigrants have choice of maintaining their ethnic identity. Through the process of enculturation, the next generation of these immigrants can learn their first and original culture from their parents. Researchers Phinney and Rotheram (1987) believe that ethnic identity process begins at birth followed by the first interaction with the family and eventually with the community. According to Phinney and Rotheram (1987), values, food choices, language and skin color inherent to the next generations prepare them for the self-labeling which will affect their belongingness to the majority community.
(J. S. R. Phinney, M. J. , 1987) US Hispanics for example maintain their Spanish language as their primary language though they can comprehend the majority language. Language is a very important tool for the immigrants to adjust to the new environment. It links and separates the people and the way that the immigrant uses it, is how he can preserve his identity. It is the symbol and the means of expressing one’s self and it is here that one’s ethnic self is challenged by the need to communicate and mingle with the majority.
“But how do we do this - how do we sing a joyous song when in an unfamiliar land? ” (Kucera) There are however groups like the Slovaks, Germans, Romanians and Croats which preserve their mother tongue for hundreds of years. These groups have rich historic roots in Hungary and now saddened by the fast shift to other language within the past 50 years. It was only in Romas, the largest minority in Hungary, which have more distinct regard to the use of their mother language, Gypsy, which according to them, begins to fade in Mother Theresa’s era.
(Kende, 1998) Today, the loss of language is rapid that it can not be anymore serve appropriately as an index of ethnic identity. Discuss two such factors you think are the most important in maintaining ethnic identity of the second and third generation. Give reasons Family enculturation will be the basic and most important factor in maintaining ethnic identity. It will always be the foundation of the individual’s values, beliefs and culture.
However, parenting sometimes becomes difficult for the first generation because what immigrant parents already know about parenting from their original culture may conflict with parenting behaviors of the parents of the majority community. More often than not, the children are caught in the middle and confused of what is right or what is wrong. This is where the big challenge of the parents to maintain their ethnic identity.
Success for the immigrant parents to pass through the first generation will pass the challenge on them for transferring the ethnic identity to the second generation and to the third as well. The force for acculturation increases as the generation is mixed with other race or culture. The mix marriage results to the loss of ethnic identity of one or both of the partners and this will be a real concern in maintaining ethnic identity. Much effort has to be done here by the parents to maintain ethnic identity.
According to Steinberg, (1996), parents can effectively maintain ethnic identity through ethnic socialization which consists of three themes: 1) understanding one's own culture, 2) getting along in mainstream society, and 3) dealing with racism. (Steinberg, 1996) Another factor that can be considered to be important in maintaining ethnic identity is to live with the same ethnic group. This will maximize the interaction of the members of the ethnic group and will strengthen the symbols that bind the group. It will also foster unity among the ethnic group promoting the preservation of their ethnic identity.