The ethnic mix of America is complex, consisting of indigenous peoples as well as . voluntary and involuntary around whom revolve questions religions, allegiance and national pride. Tension and ambivalence surround the whole idea of ethnicity in America, indeed some would argue that ‘our grandparents were ethnic, not us’ (Singh et. Al. 1994:5), preferring to believe in the possibility of ‘one homogeneous “American” community’ (Singh et. Al. 1994:5). Most of these characteristics are self-explanatory; shared traditions, values, folklore, literature, religion, and food preferences are the basic elements of a common culture. Transcendental ties and internal and external perceptions of distinctiveness mirror ethnic self-identification and the outwardly apparent differences of ethnic groups. This list also reflects the fact that with the exception of American Indians and Alaska Natives, American ethnic groups migrated to this country more or less together during specific periods of U.S. history. Ethnic groups have specialized political interests that are directly related to the well-being of the group. These interests are frequently served by organizations identified with specific ethnic groups – for example, the B’bai B’irth, the Sons of Italy, and the National Congress of American Indians (Snipp, 1989, p. 39). An ethnic minority group is one that is not of the majority heritage and that shares various characteristics of a culture and kultur (Nelson, 1987, p.109). The history of ethnic groups in America is first of all the story of large numbers of ordinary persons, not dramatic tales of colorful or unusually talented leaders (Luebke, 1999, p. 138). A brief history of ethnic studies in the United States at the outset serves to provide the historical context for understanding and configuring the discipline. At the core of this study is a formal definition of the ethnic studies, a description of its subfields, and a demarcation of the discipline in comparison with its neighboring fields (Yang, 2000, p. 1003). Although American scholars embarked on the study of ethnic groups and their interrelations a long ago, ethnic studies as a discipline did not emerge until the late 1960s (Gutierrez 1994; Hu-DeHart 1995). As a model, it fails to explain questions regarding the United States’ capacity to the natural history of ethnic groups afford an explanation of the civilizations (Bankston, 2000, p. 398). By the definition or set of criteria one might choose, there can be little doubt that American Indians are a bona fide ethnic group. The authenticity of American Indian ethnicity is widely recognised by social scientists (Snipp, 1989, p. 39). The group should also be recognised as separate by the dominant culture and recognise them as the ethnic minority groups in the United States as long as historical background. (Nelson, 1987, p.187). Some of these are comparative; some philosophical; some historical; others focus on current policy issues or relate ethnicity to major subjects (Thernstrom, 1980, p. 1076).
The ethnic loyalties are an important part of the cultural diversity that we believe enhances learning and makes America an interesting place to live (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 163). The forces that have inhibited America from becoming a society in which ethnic diversity is truly valued, I shall argue, are rooted in deep cultural and ethnic loyalties (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 164). These arrangements demonstrate family loyalty and provide a basis for maintaining ethnic values (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 175). Ethnic identities in the political arena take on similar characteristics. The white Anglo candidate who speaks a little Spanish is more marketable than the (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 181). These parents are too smart to believe that stronger ethnic ties would necessarily solve these problems. They know that children need certain material (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 185). Ethnic traditions will be preserved, and, paradoxically, the United States will also be in a better position to interact economically and politically with the Native Americans (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 196). They tell of national origins, ethnic customs, extended families, religious practices, and individual struggles and accomplishments (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 219). The shared assumptions that give coherence to our society are about individuals and ethnic groups and communities, as well as about the nation itself (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 224).
Ethnic studies was not a concern of American society; ethnicity was viewed by the then-dominant paradigm of ethnic relation-assimilation theory- as a social problem that prevents the full assimilation of ethnic groups into the mainstream of society. Ethnic groups, especially minority groups, started to emphasize ethnic consciousness, ethnic identity and ethnic pride (Yang, 2000, p. 1004). One important component of ethnic studies is the study of ethnic groups. ethnic studies has profound interests in all social aspects of ethnic groups incuding their histories (e.g., origin, immigration, settlement, population changes and socioeconomic transformations); cultures (e.g., language, religions, customs, and popular cultures); institutions and organisations (e.g., family, school, economic institutions, political, social, and religious organisations); identities; experiences; and contributions to American culture and society. Another vital component of ethnic studies is the study of intergroup relations, which include ethnic stratification; social, economic, and spatial interactions among ethnic groups; political power relations; cooperation and conflict between groups; ethnic prejudice and stereotype; ethnic discrimination; and so on. Individual ethnic groups may be better understood in comparison with and relationship to other ethnic groups. Ethnic studies seek to capture the social, economic, cultural, and historical forces that shape the development of diverse ethnic groups and their interrelations. Ethnic studies adopt interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and comparative approaches to knowledge. Ethnic studies scholars study ethnic groups and their interrelations through the combination and integration of perspectives of various disciplines, including anthropology, economics, history, political science, psychology, sociology, and humanities (e.g., philosophy, literature, linguistics, arts). In addition, ethnic studies uses some discipline-based methodologies of the social sciences and humanities. Currently, the emphasis of ethnic studies is on those ethnic groups that have been neglected in the past. Ethnic studies is concerned about all ethnic groups but focuses on minority groups such as African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans (Yang, 2000, p. 1005). For instance, among those in the survey just mentioned who attributed getting ahead to hard work, only 13 percent thought people at the top in America (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 119). The other sources of assistance identified with any frequency were churches and ethnic associations. These were mentioned by about 10 percent of those are from other communities (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 123). They also are preserving their ethnic heritage. Southern California was a vibrant religious market (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 141).
However, the criteria that ordinarily define the boundaries of ethnic populations raise a serious doubt about whether American Indians can be legitimately regarded as a single, relatively homogeneous ethnic group. Likewise, there are a number of reasons why it is reasonable to think about American Indians and Alaska Natives as a multi-ethnic population. But if the American Indian population is really a hodge-podge of different ethnic groups, how should this population be subdivided to reflect the basic social and cultural differences that exist among the various tribal groups across the United States? (Snipp, 1989, p. 39). Their numbers include artists and leaders of ethnic organizations who aspire directly to cultural influence, as well as professionals in government and business who serve as role models in their respective fields (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 9).
Currently, the United States government defines white Americans, black or African Americans, Asian Americans, and Natives Americans as racial groups. However, the government does not define Hispanic Americans or Latinos as a racial group. Hispanics are defined solely in terms of the Spanish language rather than in terms of physical characteristics. Latinos are defined in terms geographical origin –Latin America –rather than physical traits. In the 1980 and 1990 U.S. censuses, Hispanics were classified as culturally defined ethnic groups. As a result, they overlapped with whites, blacks, or Asians. For instances, some Cubans and Mexicans were also classified as whites, just as some Puerto Ricans were pigeonholed as blacks. Moreover, many people, as well as the federal government, use the terms Latino and Hispanic interchangeably. (Yang, 2000, p. 1010).
The broad definition of ethnic group defines ethnic group as a group socially distinguished, by others or by itself, on the basis of its unique culture, national origin, or racial characteristics. Despite the differences that continue to reflect their diverse ethnic and national origins, there are also striking similarities (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 112). The only difference between the broad definition and the narrow definition lies in that the broad definition includes racial or physical characteristics as a determining factor. In light of the broad definition, ethnic groups includes racial groups. Not all the three conditions including culture, national origin, or race are required, and an ethnic group can be identified as long as one of the conditions met. Hence, Italians Germans, Jewish, Irish, English, polish, and other European groups are ethnic groups; whites are also an ethnic group because they can be defined in terms of their racial characteristics. To distinguish between the two categories of ethnic groups, one may consider white Americans, black Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and so forth may be labeled specific ethnic groups. Unless specified otherwise, this study uses the broad definition of ethnic groups. The broad definition enables us to include both racial groups and culturally defined ethnic groups in this study. Both racially defined ethnic groups and culturally defined ethnic groups are within the domain of ethnic studies. The broad definition can also help us understand the process of ethnic formation and thus avoid unnecessary altercation over the complex and sometimes overlapping boundaries between a culturally defined ethnic group and a racial group. For instance, African Americans are a racial group, but it can be argued that African Americans have also become an ethnic group through the creation of new African American culture, institutions, identity, and sense of peoplehood (Pitts 1982). Using the broad definition of ethnic group avoids the unneeded dispute over whether African Americans should be treated as a racial group or as an ethnic group. Furthermore, the broad definition is increasingly being used by scholars and the public. Although some researchers sense political overshadow the political tinge (Essed 1991, 28) (Yang, 2000, p. 1011). They vary among different ethnic groups and from one region to another, and yet they provide us with common narratives about our shared existence. They tell us what it means to be Americans, how America is good, and why some people are more successful than others. They reassure us that our privileges as individuals and as a nation are well-deserved. They tell us how to worship and how to identify ourselves ethnically and racially. They help us understand our love-hate relationship with material possessions and keep us from doing much to change this relationship (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 3).
Finally, the use of the broad definition of ethnic group can be traced back to the writings of such important scholars as Max Weber (1961), Milton Gordon (1964, 27), Nathan Glazer (1971), and Thomas Sowell (1981), to name just a few. In spite of the embrace of the broad definition of the ethnic group in this study, the term racial group is also used from time to time in a context strictly related to racially define ethnic groups. (Yang, 2000, p. 1012). Home connotes not only one's immediate family but one's friends, the street on which one lived, a familiar shop or school, religious or ethnic customs (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 98).
However, the concept of assimilation asserted that all ethnic groups could be incorporated in a new American national identity, with specific shared beliefs and values, and that this would take preference over any previously held system of traditions. Assimilation stressed the denial of ethnic difference and the forgetting of cultural practices in favour of Americanisation which emphasized that one language should dominate as a guard against diverse groups falling outside the social concerns and ideological underpinnings of American society. Native Americans and African Americans, as well as immigrants from Europe and elsewhere, were seen as a threat until they were brought within the acceptable definitions of “Americanness” or excluded from it entirely. These versions of assimilation focused on conformity and homogeneity as the way of guaranteeing democracy and equality for all in differences between tribal and white culture appeared too great for a satisfactory assimilation and the reservation system was employed instead. Arguments about ethnicity in recent years, influenced by the post-1960s’ interest in multiculturalism, have moved away from the pressures to one central, uniform idea of America as the only definition of nationhood and towards cultural pluralism. This still allows for diverse ethnic groups to still share common connections as Americans without losing their links to older allegiances and identities. The civil rights movement helped to cement interests in ethnic pride and cultural diversity as strengths, asserting the possibility for self-definition and cultural autonomy rather than consensus conformity. The tensions between the call to ethnic assimilation through the abandonment of old values and the pull towards a new sense of plural, multicultural society have, however, remained persistent, and are very much the concerns of the ethnic cultural forms that this paper will examine (Campbell and Kean, 1997, p. 45).
A consideration of ethnicity might, therefore, begin with the particular situation of the Native Americans and their relationship to the wider issues of America as a nation, before moving on to consider other groups and their responses to the centralizing demands on identity (Campbell and Kean, 1997, p. 46). Perhaps America is now more accepting of racial and ethnic diversity than in the past, less fraught with discrimination, and more willing to embrace cultural pluralism. Both the fact of upward mobility and the stories that can be told about it, therefore, are ways of renewing our society (Wuthnow, 2006, p. 7).