Post-ethnic Future and a Day Without Immigrants

Immigration policy has been much discussed this week.

I don’t always agree with Joel Kotkin, but he is observant and makes me think. His Multiculturalism of the Streets in the American Interest borrows from the thoughts of the LA Times’ Sergio Munoz and posits the raise of a “post-ethnic future.” (from Chicago Boyz, via Glenn) His conclusion:

The new America will be more the product of the street-level trends that operate below the radar of intellectuals—just as it always has. If we’re smart, we’ll let what comes most naturally to American society take its course.

This “multiculturalism of the streets? differs enormously from the political variety of multiculturalism taught in ethnic studies programs or embraced by governments in racial quotas and “official? Islamic councils…The best way to see this ongoing process is by checking out the streets of Houston, Los Angeles or New York—the great immigrant portals of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Among the people working there, concepts such as “ethnic solidarity?, “people of color? or “cultural community? generally count for less than basic principles such as “Does this sell??, “What’s my market??, and ultimately, “How do I fit in??…This churning of the American population will accelerate the nation’s shift away from ethnic enclaves. As kids grow up in mixed-race suburbs and experience diversity at both school and the mall, they will create what, for lack of a better word, is a “blended? ethnic culture.

Meanwhile, on Valentine’s Day Philadelphia saw a “Day without Immigrants” as a protest against H.R. 4437 (professional coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer, amateur via Philly IMC , photos and video, though the sound is bad.)

Lastly, I took issue with Darryl Fears‘ phrasing in his Washington Post article on the US’ “wet foot, dry foot” policy towards Cuban migrants:

It allows Cubans into the country if they step on land but sends them home, where they would likely face persecution, if the Coast Guard intercepts their boats at sea.

The policy exists, and sends Cubans home if the don’t reach land. They either DO or DO NOT face persecution in Cuba, for some reason Fears is not clear.


2 thoughts on “Post-ethnic Future and a Day Without Immigrants

  1. Hey John, have you read Paul Gilroy’s Postcolonial Melancholia? He makes a similar argument by referencing what he calls conviviality. Gilroy defines conviviality as, “the processes of cohabitation and interaction that have made multiculture an ordinary feature of social life in Britain’s urban areas and in postcolonial cities elsewhere” (xv). He claims that conviviality, “introduces a measure of distance from the pivotal term ‘identity'” (xv). “The radical openness that brings conviviality alive makes nonsense of closed, fixed, and reified identity and turns attention toward the always unpredictable mechanisms of identification” (xv).

    He even uses The Streets and British Garage music to make his point.

    But this argument may be too optomistic – the riots in LA’s jails can also tell us much about the street level.

  2. Juan– i checked out some Gilroy;I liked his “critique of “hardline culturalism”

    He sites Huntington: latino immigrants are “the single most immediate and serious challenege to America’s tradidional identity.” I wonder if that’s true– my sense is that he may be right, that we’re headed for a more pan-american identity, at least in lots of places.
    My criticism of the Joel Kotkin piece is that his use of European immigration as a metaphor doesn’t cut it– technology, geopgraphy and culture make Latino, especially Mexican, immigration a very different phenomena.

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