Ethnic America Essay, Research Paper
Today, America is made up of many different kinds of people. There are so many
cultures that make America unique. Ethnic America, by Thomas Sowell, gives an excellent
example about why these different groups immigrated from there homelands to come to
America. Sowell also mention’s the economic and cultural contributions made by these
different cultures to our nation. The author didn’t leave any stone unturned, and traces
each culture from thier homeland to thier economic standing in today’s society.
Most of the people that immigrate to America today are fleeing poverty or
persecution in thier own countries. This is not only true today, but the same reasons people
came to America in the past. The immigrants from Europe demonstrate the largest
quantity of immigrant looking for freedom. The Irish although free, lived as “a conquered
people.” (pg. 19) The British controlled every aspect of their lives. Irish life expectancy
was low, and they were extremely poor. The Germans however fled to escape the power
of petty rulers, and religious persecution. In reality, the Germans that flocked to America
were Prussians who left thier homelands before Germany was formed. Their lives were
played against each other by their rulers, which seemed to have never changed until the
removal of the Berlin wall, or Iron Curtain. The Jews left their homes over a span of time
for one reason, and one reasonably, religious persecution. From 70 AD , to the early
twentieth century Jews have been seeking religious freedom in countries other than thier
own. Italian immigrants came for reasons varying from poverty to the varying languages
and cultures of Italy. Cultural freedom is not the only reason that immigrants leave thier
countries though. The Asian immigrants came to the new world to escape political upset.
the Chinese and Japanese immigrants left their homelands to seek refuge from the
constantly changing political rulers of thier time. Latins came to America for the sole
reason that they were extremely poor. Mexicans and Puerto Ricans had nothing worth
calling their own. The last group of immigrants to come to America is the only group that
was brought here against it’s own will. The Africans are the only group to be literally
extracted by force from there homes. In fact after the slaves were free several of them
returned to Africa. Sowell gave more details on the countries themselves which he could
have kept a little shorter, but overall he covers exactly why the vast quantities of
immigrants fled to America.
For whatever reason the immigrants came to America, they came and with them
they brought several traditions with them transforming America into the most culturally
diverse place in the world. Unfortunately settling here in America took time in the sense
the immigrants freedom and wealth did not come easy. Although it took time to settle in to
society, and establish thier dreams, the immigrants knew that no matter how long it took
thier dreams could be accomplished. America gave these people hope and safety. In thier
homelands, these people would have never been able to fulfill thier dreams and ambitions.
Today the immigrants show great achievement. The Irish, although not the biggest
success story, have reach what we call the American dream, or have become middle-class
families. The Germans have made great contributions in “industry, science, culture,
military strength, and recreation.” (pg. 68) After years of searching, the Jewish have not
only found religious freedom, but have become one of the more educated and wealthy
groups in America. “Jews are the classic American success story.” (pg. 98) The Italians are
not that much different from today’s average American, they have reached an average
income and gotten a standard education. The Chinese and Japanese however, are more
advanced in education and wealth than most. Many of these people are working in
scientific fields making America a great leader in technology. Asians seem to work harder
and longer than most Americans which has lead to thier steady rise in today’s society. The
Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, have merely moved to a new enviornment. On the average, a
majority of these people are unemployed and uneducated. Today, more and more go to
school, but rarely move on to a four year university. The blacks, while a majority remain in
poverty, have bettered themselves considerably, and continue to do so to this day. There
are several distinguished black Americans thought time, and this group has been at a
constant rise in earning money and getting an education.
I found this book to be extremely interesting. It was accurate and consistent.
Sowell never strayed from topic to topic and covered every detail he possibly could. The
only point that I disagreed with the author was that he believes that “little or no African
culture survives in American Negroes.” (pg. 184) This is very untrue. Today blacks take a
definite interest in thier roots and show great interest in learning all about thier African
heritage. I also believe that Sowell should have went into more detail of what contributions
were made by groups other than the Germans. He tells how the Germans gave us the
Christmas tree and so on, but what about the other cultures, what did they contribute.
Overall this was an excellent book that I would recommend to friends. The author keeps
the reader well informed throughout the book, and this helps make the reading easier.
Sowell did an excellent job because he didn’t just pin the culture of this continent to one
ethnic group, but incorporated a large diversity of ethnic backgrounds which contributed to
our society today. Ethnic America is definitely a book which students should read to learn
more about the many cultures which have made America. This book can not only be used
to enrich a history class, but can be used to show the economic progress of the immigrants
from thier homelands to today. Sowell uses graphs and tables to help the reader
understand what he is talking about. I found Ethnic America to be well thought out,
researched and written.