Archive for the ‘first generation’ tag
What does “home” mean to you? Does home mean a building, or somewhere that you feel comfortable? What tastes or smells like home? Collard greens, tortillas, steaming rice or noodles–green bean casserole? How long has your family called Fort Collins, or Colorado, or the United States your home? If you are Native American, the Americas have always been your ancestral home, if not it’s likely that someone in your family’s past journeyed from somewhere else–to what today we call the United States. Some of our ancestors were forced to cross the Atlantic, others made epic journeys and stayed, while many others did not. (According to Irving Howe, for example, one-third of European immigrants who came to North America between 1908 and 1924 returned home).
Since U.S. schools have traditionally framed themselves as agents of assimilation, we have been taught that immigrants who assimilated were successful, although researcher Richard Rothstein shows that during the immigration period from 1880 to 1915, very few Americans did well in school–immigrants of all backgrounds did poorly. The myth of “first generation” immigrants making it in their new home is not supported by research; indeed, it shows that only successive generations achieved more academically! The process of finding home is often tough and traumatic.
For generations, many Americans imagined themselves thrown into the melting pot, or in the case of African Americans they constructed culture while they were denied the opportunity to jump in. Not all Americans are the descendants of immigrants, and today, few people find the concept of a melting pot of culture appealing–the high temperature of the metaphor evokes the actual pain of assimilation! We prefer to imagine ourselves as a patchwork, a nation that is more like a quilt with different cultural traditions and contributions forming the pattern. Our eclectic foodways, as mentioned earlier for example, reflect the contributions of family dinners from around the globe, and should serve to remind us that finding home takes different ingredients.
Early immigrants are celebrated for laying the foundations of U.S. culture and economy, while new neighbors are often blamed for the inequity they face in our society. On one hand, we celebrate and mythologize European immigrants of the past, and on the other, we often stereotype or even fear people currently trying to find their way home.
Guillermo Gómez-Peňa visited Fort Collins last year–check out his Strange Democracy performance to get his take on anti-immigration hysteria. What part do you and your family play in this still unfolding story? Between April 2 and May 3, Beet Street‘s Finding Home Series celebrates our collective past–everyday our histories and lives make Fort Collins lively and vibrant. How will you participate? How will you celebrate your story? How will you celebrate your home?
These are important material questions. One half of the world’s population, for example, approximately 3 billion people on six continents, lives or works in buildings constructed of earth. Between 1927 and 1935, New Mexico immigrants John and Inez Rivera Romero built a four-room adobe house in Fort Collins’ Andersonville district. Members of the Romero family called that house “home” until the Poudre Landmarks Foundation purchased it in 2001. The Romero House stands as a monument to many immigrants who worked skillfully to create an inexpensive, yet sound, home in a short period of time. Finding home meant making adobe bricks–sand and clay mixed with water and straw, then drying them in the open air. The Romero House (renovated into the Museo de las Tres Colonias) serves as an interpretative center to celebrate the contributions of the Hispanic community in northern Colorado. Find out what’s planned for April in our home town and come and celebrate with us!
Thanks for the mouth watering photo by 水泳男!