How is it possible to integrate militant national minorities into a society? As Dennis Chong and Dukhong Kim found out, it is necessary “to feed them better” for this purpose. In any case, those representatives of ethnic minorities who have higher economic status, good possibilities for success and who are not exposed to discrimination, less often recollect their race or nationality. It shows that “the solution of the problem of minority is not only in hands of groups of ethnic activists but also in hands of the whole society”.
During the post-war time, when the sizes of the middle class among the Afro-Americans extended, the scientists started to argue whether the improvement of living conditions would lead to a replacement of racial consciousness by class consciousness. Wilson proved that when living prospects for the Afro-Americans began to depend more on their economic status, the questions of racial status would begin to influence them less, so class questions would become urgent.
However, in 1994, Dawson established that among the Afro-Americans with a higher status, the racial identity did not become weaker. The level of the income and education are obviously connected with that the black people felt sharing their common faith with other blacks. According to Dawson, the racial consciousness remains as the racial discrimination remains substantially acute issue, and people feel that their personal status will improve only with the increase of the status of the whole group. Even the Afro-Americans from the middle class continue to pay attention to the inequality between the blacks and the whites, despite their personal achievements.
The social and economic barriers, created by racial prejudices and discrimination, led scientists to the doubts concerning whether new immigrants from the countries of Latin America and Asia would follow the same ways of assimilation as their predecessors from Europe..
It is possible to come to a conclusion that the social and economic mobility creates possibilities for people. Nevertheless, the minority can consider that their economic successes do not erase racial and ethnic distinctions. For example, in the real estate market, they can find out that they have no access to the areas that are the most necessary for them and which the whites have. Consequently, it raises a question if new immigrants from Asia or Africa face bigger barriers on the way of their integration than the former immigrants from Europe and whether they react to discrimination and difficulties in the same way.
Only recently the researches have been carried out showing how racial and ethnic consciousness influences political moods and behavior of the ethnic minorities. In comparison with the Afro-Americans, the natives of Asia achieved a bigger success in America. In spheres of education, income, property possessions, the natives of Asia have integrated into the American society rather quickly and made such progress that they are sometimes called “exemplary minority” (Barzilai 26). They also face discrimination less often than the Afro-Americans. They are more optimistically disposed and are sure that everything is made for the achievement of success.
For the Latin Americans, the situation is different. According to their average income, accommodation and education, they have the same status or even worse than the blacks. The Latinos are convinced that their status is lower than the whites’, but at the same time they arrived to the States because this country could give them more possibilities than they had in their homeland. The Latin Americans are often exposed to discrimination (on the second place after the Afro-Americans) that can strengthen their national consciousness; however, the majority of them do not associate the difficulties with the discrimination.
Similar divergences in the economic situation of the Afro-Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans inevitably influence their racial, ethnic and group interests in policy.
Some researches investigated the distinctions between the minorities in order to develop the theory which explains how and when the economic status can influence the support of group interests.
The researches of the racial policy in the United States cannot be reduced more to studying of distinctions between the blacks and the whites. The changes in the population for the last 40 years resulted from a powerful inflow of immigrants from Latin America and Asia, and the adoption of the immigration Act from 1965. It created a new demographic context. Though the whites still make up a numerical majority, the minority still finds a considerable electoral potential owing to their high concentration in several parts of the country.
In case of paying attention to this new multinational context, there will be a question whether the members of these groups meet group interests, not just personal? The analysis showed that the distinctions between the minorities and races could be explained by different conditions which they lived in, features of their status but not theoretical constructions.
The researches found out that the Afro-Americans from the middle class, living in better conditions, pay less attention to the race problems and express less support to the policy in this direction.
Generally, for the representatives of all minorities, aspiring to equal opportunities and integration into the society, the improvement of living standards contributes towards weakening of the attention to racial and ethnic problems.
The distinctions in living conditions between the Afro-Americans and other minorities, their different economic status influence their behavior and activity in supporting group interests. Among the Latin Americans and Asian Americans, the economic status is connected with a more approving assessment of the interracial relations. Unlike them, the middle class of the Afro-Americans estimates negatively the group possibilities and complains of the discrimination more often than the Afro-Americans with a lower status.
On the other hand, the higher economic status is not capable to smooth race and ethnicity problems among those who are often exposed to the discrimination. Nevertheless, the remaining distinctions between the minorities, even after the discrimination has been kept under control and the possibilities have been extended, show that the group identity among the Afro-Americans is higher than among the other groups of the population.
The analysis showed that the support of the racial and group interests by members of the national minorities is amplified, if the society appeared to be incapable to provide equal opportunities, and it is weakened in case of the improvement of the living conditions and the economic status.
Huntington, the critics of multiculturalism, proved that “strong racial and ethnic groups weakened the national identity, they underestimate structural social and economic conditions from time to time, influencing the formation of identities” (Russell and Russell 111). Structural barriers on the way to a personal success in the United States are amplified by the tendency of each generation of immigrants to create social and economic networks on the basis of their race and ethnicity for accumulation of the collective resources, necessary for the economic and political success. “People emphasize – they forget about their racial or ethnic origin, partially depending on as far as it is favorable to them”.
When belonging to the minority is a brand and creates obstacles in the way to a personal success, the members of such a minority avoid underlining their belonging to them. When speaking about social mobility, it is naturally to think of social and economic or class mobility, but it is also meant mobility between the described categories.
People, who suffer less from their belonging to a certain group, will pay less attention to their racial or ethnic origin if their economic situation is improving. When the need for the belonging to the group decreases, such people will pay a greater attention to the circumstances of their private life, and they are more inclined to estimate the governmental policy positively.
Though the economic successes of the Asian minorities reduce the probability of that they will create their racial identity, the history of discrimination of the Asians in America and their rejection from the political and economic activity can remind them that their living prospects are still defined partially by their race. The Asian Americans are more inconsistent, they more often fluctuate in a choice between an individual or collective way of actions in policy. In addition, unlike the Latinos or the Blacks, they are less inclined to build a political strategy on the racial identity. However, in some cases, the racial identity of the Asians can effectively be used for satisfaction of their collective interests.
It seems that the ethnic distinctions among the Latin Americans can interfere with their political mobilization round the ethnic identity, however, sharp political conflicts on questions, such as immigration and social reforms, can become a uniting force. People, who are touched by these problems, have an interest in the unification within their group identity.
Moreover, it is easier for political parties to collect votes of the Latin Americans as their number is growing quickly in America, and they lodge in large cities. Having large parties supporting them, the Latin American elite can mobilize certain people as the Latin Americans. The majority of them have already believed that together they will act more successfully in the achievement of the general political goals. Besides, the vast majority of the Latin Americans are convinced that the political mobilization will improve their welfare. It seems that the Latin Americans have a bigger, in comparison with the Asians, potential for self-organizing on the basis of the general identity and coordination of the destiny with the destiny of the group.