Generally, the United State of America is an immigrant country, which was founded by the western and non-western immigrants who desired and hoped for living better lives in the new land. The first generation immigrants refer to those who were born outside the United States whereas, the second generation immigrants are those who were born in the United States by immigrant parents. The urban American immigrants are broadly categorized into first and second generation.
The two distinct generations interacted socially and shared ample cultural experiences.
However, overlapping social differences could also be witnessed among the two groups of immigrants. Various theories including the melting pot and monolithic, have been used to explain the immigrant’s experiences as well as articulating the differences alluding to the two generations. Bodnar, from his monolithic theory, asserts that economic factors are the only prime motive for emigrants. This paper, therefore, seeks to explain the social differences between the two immigrant groups as well as their experiences in the United State of America.
The first and second immigrants shared a number of experiences in America as a result of cultural interactions. To begin with, the first experience faced by the immigrants was discrimination based on gender and ethnic backgrounds. Immigrants were occasionally mocked to go back to their ancestral land where they came from. They were judged based on stereotypes that stacked on the minds of the American people such as drug bandits and terrorists. For example, some Muslim immigrants narrated horrifying stories involving factious tales associating them with Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban group. Moreover, they were tolerant to abuses of being ignorant. Immigrants also faced enormous injustice issues and racial discriminations based on the colors of the eyes and hair, a move that forced some to apply a red dye on their hair so that they could not be identified easily. They also encountered sexual and economic discriminations.
On the other hand, Isolation is another intriguing issue that the immigrants were not exempted from. In the minds of the immigrants, Americans were a proof of life lesson. Caucasians were not considered Americans by the fact that they were not brown skinned. They were isolated from being American and were considered to be where their ancestors were from. The American traditions and values were considered superior and no one could be called an American without conforming to the American Culture. The American Culture categorized the people into American males and females. Such gender-based isolations were evident on the character, dressing mode and the beliefs and perceptions. Failure to show up these features, one was considered an immigrant and could be abandoned by peers.
The melting pot theory further asserts that discrimination and isolation were common practices in America. The whites recognized themselves as Mexicans, Latin or Americans and could hardly welcome strangers despite being blended together by the American Culture. However, the emergence of an increased number of Europeans and non-western immigrants with different cultures rendered the melting pot theory vulnerable.
Conversely, the social experiences for the first and second generation immigrants differ significantly. These differences are believed to have emanated from demographic traits, the perception of identity, attitudes towards social values as well as the individual experiences in America. One of the major differences is demographic characteristics. First immigrant generation experiences lower access to educational facilities compared to second immigrant generation. Moreover, the later has a lower number of college and graduate individuals. This asserts that the first immigrant community has a higher number of skilled and semi-skilled individuals compared to the second immigrant, which has the highly skilled personnel. This further denotes that the two generations have different household income with the second immigrant generation having a higher percentage as a result of high level of education.
The second different experience is the perception of identity. First and second generations portray different attitudes towards their ethnic backgrounds and national identity. About 68% of the first-generation immigrants identify themselves as Latin Americans since Latin is their country of origin compared to the Second generation with only 38%. On the other hand, more than 75% of the second generation immigrants identify themselves as the Americans.
Attitude towards the social values is another significant difference. The First generation immigrants are considered more conservative than their counterparts. For instance, they strongly condemned divorce and abortion claiming that they were against the moral values of life. In addition to this, they also had negative attitudes towards planning for the future, alleging that the future is always uncertain and no one has control over it. The first generation also upheld other attitudes including allowing more immigrants and living of children in their parent’s home until their time of marriage. It is interesting noting that the second immigrants disputed all these attitudes and accepted the reverse to be inevitable.
Finally, it is worth to keep in mind that the second generation has higher household income than the first generation. For this reason, they seem to be experiencing better living conditions than their counterparts. Moreover, they enjoy high-class health insurance cover and are able to save so as to meet their future uncertainties.
In conclusion, the first and second immigrant generations interact and share quite a number of social experiences. However, most of the experiences are horrifying. Some of the experiences shared by both parties include isolation, discrimination based on ethnic backgrounds, gender, and racism. On the other hand, the two generation’s social experiences also differ significantly due to the difference in the American cultures, thus subjecting them to hold on different values and norms. They differ in attitudes towards the social values, demographic traits, and perception of identity. The Monolithic and Melting port theory are some of the theories, which explains best the immigrants’ experiences as well as the differences in the aforementioned experiences.