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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.


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