Assimilation

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Posted on : 3/03/2010 10:08:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

Assimilation.

The cornerstone to incorporating successive waves of immigrants.  It is only through assimilation that new arrivals can learn the culture of their new country and discover how they can become a vital part of it.

Yet assimilation is not a one directional phenomenon.  Food would be the easiest area to identify where various waves of immigrants have altered the culinary landscape by bringing the flavors of their native lands to America.  Language, cultural festivities, and music are other areas that demonstrate where assimilation is an exchange as well as a process of education and unification.

So why bring this up?


It appears that the University Arkansas ZTA sorority has won the 2010 Sprite Step Off competition.....sort of.

The long story goes that UofA AKA sorority decided to take the ZTA girls under their wing when ZTA decided to form a step group.  If you haven't heard, stepping is a sort of dance/rhythm performance that is popular among predominantly black sororities and fraternities.  It is particularly popular on the campuses of institutions of higher learning that have almost entirely black student bodies.

After years of practice, the ZTA girls won the 2010 competition sponsored by Sprite/Coca-Cola.

Some memorable quotes from the story.

Lawrence Ross, author of "The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities, said the increased interest in stepping is a natural evolution, much like other urban staples such as rap music that went from an underground phenomenon to mainstream.

"Others are always going to be attracted to what you're doing and are going to want to participate," said Ross, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, a historically black fraternity.

He said the nation is integrating more than ever and blacks who embrace President Barack Obama making inroads into previously all-white bastions can't have a double standard.

"If (black Olympian) Shani Davis was prevented from speed skating simply because traditionally, no African-Americans were in the field, we African-Americans would be up in arms," he said.
....
"What has happened is black youth culture, what people would call hip hop, sort of made black culture accessible and appealing to all kinds of people," said Walter Kimbrough, president of historically black Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark., and an expert on black Greek life. "It really now has become an American experience."
Video link here.  The crowd's reaction was interesting.  They largely accepted and appreciated this performance by such an unlikely group.

Now the victory by a bunch of white girlsat what is perceived...by some...as an all-black competition was not without some modest controversy.  But consider how far we have come.  

Fifty years ago the Arkansas National Guard had to be called up to protect black high school students seeking an education.  Such was the condition of the times that people actively fought to prevent the successful assimilation of blacks into mainstream America.

And today, we have a bunch of white college students [from Arkansas - Ed.] that have absorbed so well the addition to our culture brought by black Americans that they won a national competition.

We still have a long way to go when it comes to race relations and cultural assimilation.  We ought to enjoy those rare moments when we discover a sign that we are headed in the right direction.

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