Utah's History

By Thomas G. Alexander; Eugene E. Campbell et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 34
Utah's Unassimilated Minorities

Richard O. Ulibarri

In 1909 a Jewish immigrant, Israel Zangwill,, wrote The Melting Pot, a play about American immigrants. Its successful Broadway run created for the English language an expression of faith in American homogeneity, and for many years thereafter Americans pretended that the melting pot myth really worked. But in the 1960s Americans finally realized that the melting pot motif was actually restricted to those in the United States whose ancestry, heritage, and traditions are European.

It is estimated that approximately eighty-five percent of the United States population represent this European background. The other fifteen percent is composed of four groups of people who have generally not been successful in assimilating with the majority: Black Americans, various small Spanish-speaking groups, American Indians, and Asian Americans. These are the real ethnic minorities of this country. Because of racial or cultural differences they are treated as groups who are apart, or they regard themselves as aliens here, and they are held in low esteem and deterred from certain opportunities that are open to the dominant group.


Reasons for Nonassimilation

The primary reason these minority people have not been assimilated is not because they have not wanted it, but because the cultural majority has refused to accept them as equals. This refusal is based upon five factors.

First, the unassimilated minorities have physical characteristics that immediately set them apart--skin color, texture of hair, stature, and facial features.

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