Blog post #6
Northern Virginia is a hub for migration. Several communities including ones from India, Honduras, and Ethiopia call this region home. Honduran migration began in the 1980s. Relief from poverty and violence pulls Hondurans to the US to build a better life. The Washington DC area is home to about 50% of Honduran immigrants followed by Los Angles, New York, and Houston. In Northern Virginia, the area between Alexandria and Arlington, known as Arlandria or Chirilagua, is home to many Honduran immigrants. Although immigrants are faced with working low paying jobs due to language, education, and legal barriers, Hondurans flock to the US to create a better life for themselves and their family members remaining in Honduras. Many send money home to support wives, children or parents left behind. Men typically make more money than women, but women send more money back to Honduras. Men typically send about $467 dollars per month while women only send about $213. While this is a big difference the women’s $213 is 19% of her income compared to only 14% of the men. Women are typically supporting children left behind while men are supporting both wives, children, and parents, it makes you wonder why they are not sending more money home. Some Hondurans participate in the Latin American Dream, meaning they come to the US for two to five years to work, save to build their own homes, and then return to their families. Others, typically women’s is linked to gender inequalities in the labor market.
In the beginning men migrated out of Honduras more than
women but in recent years the rates are now comparable. Because many women leave children and the
advances in technology women are able to create and maintain transnational
families. They are able to participate
in family decisions and both give and receive emotional support. This dynamic creates an intricate power dynamic,
however. The money sent home ultimately
is in the control of the receiver and not the contributor. Migration does help empower women
financially, physically, and enables them to require better treatment by males
especially within relationships. In
contrast to the personal independence women are increasingly made dependent in
the US for sponsorship for residency, way of obtaining citizenship, and
relationships to share the cost of living.
The Ethiopian community migrated to the US’s larger cities
such as Los Angles, New York, Dallas, as well as Washington D.C. In Virginia they settled farther South in the
Columbia Pike, Landmark, and Lincolnia neighborhoods. Ethiopian’s typically enter the US legally with
Washington D.C. became the principal destination. Immigrants who arrive as
children then brought up in the US are considered 1.5 generation immigrants and
those born in the US with at least one parent who relocated are considered 2nd
Ethiopian immigrants do not identify with African
Americans. Instead they identify as
being Ethiopian or Ethiopian American.
Their assimilation in America is a multifaceted and complex process
having economic, social and cultural ramifications. They do not see race as the distinguishing
characteristic as American’s do but rather ethnicity. On questionnaires they do
not identify with Black but would prefer African. Interestingly they find negative comments
from “native Blacks” more upsetting then from Whites. Ethiopians have a great
deal of ethnic pride, it is the only African country that was not colonized by
Western powers. The Ethiopian national
flag is embraced by many of its young migrants.
The green, yellow, and red horizontal stripes are considered universally
to represent Africa.
May Ethiopian’s participate in festivals and customs brought
with them but like many second generation immigrants only have a superficial
knowledge of their meanings. Ethiopian
youth tend to invent traditions that are more in accordance with mainstream
cultural practices such as renting night clubs for gatherings. The Miss Ethiopia contest created in 2001 is
open to women between 18 and 29 who have at least one parent with Ethiopian
decent. The contestants must be of “good
moral character.” Ethiopian’s assimilate
into the broader community while juggling multiple identities. They tend to downplay their national identity
unless specifically asked while in public.
Immigrant identity is
constructed by adaptation, acculturation, and assimilation. Immigrants create their identities through
self-determination, local environments such as religious institutions, as well
as through secular organizations.
The Washington D.C. area also has a large population of
Indian immigrants which represent the third highest source of legal
immigration. Unlike their Honduran
counterparts, Indians generally are in a highly skilled professions in a high
socioeconomic status with almost 33% having bachelor’s degrees and 47% have
graduate or professional degrees. They
have a median income of $155,694. Indian
immigrants abhor the entrenched division of caste and religion preferring
Americas’ equality, freedoms, and meritocracy.
Even though Asians the 2nd largest immigrant
community in the US they are still a visible minority, who experience some
measure of “othering” by the mainstream population. At times they have been characterized as
leeches, only in the US for economic gain.
The events of September 11, 2001 magnified this type of behavior. Sikh’s for example have been verbally abused
and even assaulted. More common are
insensitive comments by natives such as complementing an Indian for superior
English language skills or being traditional because of their choice of
dress. This type of behavior is
characterized as being micoaggressive making Indian’s aware the they do not
fully belong even in places where they believed they not only deserved
acceptance and but had won it.