Friday, April 5, 2024

The apartheid of American marketing

Posted by Elena del Valle on June 7, 2006

By Suzanne Irizarry de Lopez, Eastern Research Services

Suzanne Irizarry de Lopez 

Suzanne Irizarry de Lopez

Photo: Suzanne Irizarry de Lopez

We are experiencing a demographic reinvention and movement towards a global community. Generations of transnational mobility, intermarriage and cultural give and take have yielded new arrangements of people, identities, and social practices that are challenging the definitions of self and the usefulness of racial categories for marketing purposes.

Not that America — the nation of immigrants — wasn’t diverse before, but before the Civil Rights movement, diversity was not a good thing. Assimilation (melting into the common pot) was the ultimate objective.

Prior to the mid 70’s, when cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead announced that “Being American is a matter of abstention from foreign ways, foreign food, foreign ideas, foreign accents,” people suffered for being different.  Parents struggled to ensure their children assimilated to the mass, spoke English, and rid themselves of “foreign signs,” such as speaking a language other than English, having a foreign accent, dressing in foreign clothes.

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