Everyone on earth breaths the same air, requires food, water, and shelter. We are all made with two eyes, a nose and hair on our head. We all have the same organs and are made of the same chemical compounds. Everyone experiences the same type of emotions such as fear, happiness, among others. We all have blood sweat and tears. Every woman on earth has about a 9 month pregnancy term. Every child starts teething around the same age in their development. However, even with all of these similarities, there are enough societal differences to throw you off balance if immersed into a new culture. Humans have always found a way to adapt, and it is still true today. Therefore, when a person is surrounded by a completely new culture, they may learn to adapt some of the habits of that society in order to better fit in. However, by doing so, he or she may lose some of their cultural identity.
According to Ennaji, culture is that which characterizes a society into an identifiable community. These include religion, tradition, folklore, history, the political system, language, beliefs, literature, and geography (24). The mode by which these immigrants try to settle down is by biculturalism and assimilation. Language is viewed in terms of mother tongues since they are the most important aspects that build on one’s identity by defining groups or person’s culture, ideology, and specificity. Furthermore, children use their mother tongue for early socialization. Child rearing patterns also change, and this contributes to the values instilled in the child. In addition, they shape the personalities of people and their way of thinking. For the case of Moroccans born in France, majority have become constant speakers of French, and not their mother tongue. This is because they have adopted a different culture and language by adopting new cultural habits, social membership, and ethnic practices. Therefore, cultural identity is closely related to individuals’ cultural, linguistic, and historical backgrounds (Ennaji 25).
In the African setting, globalization has affected their identity because many of people have adopted the new cultures and identities of the American people. It is evident by the way they dress, live, and even communicate and socialize with other people. Africans are known to be preservers of culture, but having a mindset of the “American dream” has left their cultures diluted and even extinct in some instances. On the roadside, young people are urged by signs to use condoms. This is a sign and extent of cultural identity loss because long ago, such things were not mentioned or discussed in public due to their strict core values and beliefs (Foner 43). Adults and older generations are finding it difficult to interact and communicate with the younger generation because of attrition. In other parts of the world also, individuals have lost their cultural identities due to the influence of outside pressures into engaging in activities common in that country. For instance, the Chinese people have made other people use their dishes in restaurants within their country. Majority of restaurant entrepreneurs have adapted to the dishes and the way of living of the Chinese people in order to be in common grounds with other members of the society. The Japanese also started to wear European-style accessories and clothing, and for the women, they began to wear European dressing styles and corsets (Foner 109). According to the Japanese mindset, by wearing the European clothing and looking good in them, the symbols of progress, enlightenment, and modernity are displayed. Radical cultural change is evident in simple things like in town; the food shelves of supermarkets or Internet contact through satellite dishes that connect with the outside world carry the seeds of change.
As a people, we have become increasingly sensitive to culture difference. U.S. society has moved from a perspective that endorsed cultural assimilation (people should leave their native culture behind and adapt to their new culture) to a view that values cultural diversity (people should retain their native cultural way). And with some notable exceptions – hate speech, racism, sexism, and classism come quickly in mind. The “Global Age” has made many people lose their cultural identities due to the mass migration experienced between the 20th and 21st centuries. The unprecedented moves have left people exposed to incredible landscape and ideas diversity. This has transpired through learning about other cultures from TV, books, and the Internet, living in multi-ethnic communities, and travelling to different countries. This has left cultural distinctions blurred, and barriers have been broken down. For most individuals migrating to the U.S., the “American Dream” has stirred them to changing their cultural values, beliefs, and language and this have contributed to the loss of cultural identity among many individuals around the globe.
In America, many of immigrants have lost their cultural identities due to peer group influence. For example, the “sea people”, Re Mataw, are from the Central Carolines in Micronesia (Hezel 2). Today, their way of life has been eroded, and they are now cooking with the iron pots and also, in their local diet, they have blended some goods that are store-bought. They have resorted to drinking vodka shots that are passed around the circle with local brew or tuba. Cultural attrition is bound to continue, and this might lead to the distinction of these people. However, their moves have eroded their cultural values and beliefs and has left them adapting to the cultures of the American people (Hezel, 10). This move was geared towards maintaining their social status and image in society at the expense of their cultural identity that has made them whom they are today, adults.
Cultural identities of immigrants in America have been lost due to the pressure of fitting in the society, which has been a problem for many because of the existence of the “Global Age”. Globalization has brought about both positive and negative aspects that need to be investigated further in order to maintain their cultural identities that dictate their way of living and dressing among other aspects (Br Med 132). Having an eroded culture dictates negative results because morals and values are lost in the process of fitting in. Hence, communities and societies need to have cultural centers and programs that foster different culture preservation because their contribution in society is vital for the growth and progress of their communities around the globe. They will also share ideas, knowledge and experiences that help in nurturing good conduct within the society (Br Med 134).
All over the world, loss of cultural identity is experienced, and older generations are trying to preserve their culture by bringing communities together. However, this is not possible because the younger generations are striving hard to adapt to the new systems upholding the political systems. Embracing new cultures is not a bad thing, but having to lose your own cultural identity is bad because it will mean that when one visits their home country, they will do what they did in the other country. As a result, they will have thrown away their societies beliefs, traditions and cultures, yet it contributed a lot in their upbringing. Culture is seen to be in different forms and should be upheld at all times because it is an important part in forming the society. As a result, it is necessary for nations to promote their cultures in times of migration because losing identity is a defensive way to survive in new cultures.
Br Med, Bull. “Migration, distress and cultural identity.” Oxford Journals 69.1 (2004): 129-141. Print.
Ennaji, Moha. Multilingualism, Cultural Identity, and Education in Morocco. New York: Springer, 2005. Print.
Foner, Nancy. In a New Land: A Comparative View of Immigration. New York: NYU Press, 2005. Print.
Hezel, Francis. “Cultural Loss: How Real is the Threat?” Micronesian Counselor 56, 2005.Print.