Separation Or Assimilation? Essay, Research Paper
Separation or Assimilation?
Our country, The United States of America, was essentially founded on
the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness through solidarity
of human kind. In Bernard R. Boxill’s article, “Separation or Assimilation,” he
fundamentally poses the Hamletesque question: to assimilate or not to assimilate.
Subsequent to the dilemma of some black cultural nationalists, whom not only
argue for assimilation of the black American populace, but also believe that
this assimilation into white culture is inevitable, against cultural pluralism.
Cultural pluralism, which was initialized by W. E.B. Dubois in the late 19th
century, is founded upon the peculiarities of races, living harmoniously in one
nation-state, and lacking superiority or inferiority. Consequently to posing
this question one dictates that there exist certain boundaries between cultures
in our American society. Where do these boundaries come from and are they
indeed necessary? Is integration of these cultures indeed inevitable?
The goal of cultural pluralism as stated by Boxill are to establish
pride in one’s own race, to maintain the authenticity of one’s own culture, and
finally to benefit the world populace. Through pride, the disdain of
inferiorities along with self respect, one adopts an attitude of self-
segregation. Boxill argues for pride as a means of preserving one’s race,
overemphasizing differences between individuals because of the color of their
skin or cultural differences, is a great defense to assimilation.
Understanding Dubois’s concept of cultural authenticity is to delve into
the mysteries of self-actualization, that is to realize one’s own potential. He
asks himself, as an African American, whether his true identity lies in the
jungles of Africa or in this land of America. He is of the opinion that these
are his only two options. He concludes that his true identity goes beyond his
American birth, citizenship, political ideals, language, laws, and religion;
deep into the heart of Africa where a timeless culture was born and should be
preserved for its beauty and used to benefit the world populace. “…the Negro
people, as a race, have a contribution to make…”(Dubois,p244) The “Negro
people” as a race, have certainly had a peculiar world condition throughout time
and have had the ability to lend privileged insights into the human condition.
The whole of humanity consists of many parts. From the cultural
pluralist perspective, this whole can be benefitted most by the contribution of
gifts from each race of humanity. But does not true diversity exist in
individual persons rather than in large groups of unique individuals. It would
seem obvious that the greatest degree of solidarity of humanity can be achieved
through contributions from the uniqueness every person possesses. Rather than
focusing on and overemphasizing cultural distinctions, mankind should seek to
better relations between races and cultures. This does not mean that every man
should disregard his cultural background. Rather, I am suggesting that every
person acknowledges the facts. First, every man should realize that we are all
individuals and second that we are all human before we are white, black,
Hispanic, Italian, or Chinese. In this way, perhaps man can put an end to the
very problems which stem from racial separation, namely race wars, famine, and
unequal distribution of resources.