Virginia Immigration Blog

This week’s readings consisted of three articles, “The Latinization of the Central Shenandoah Valley”, “Identity and Assimilation among Young Ethiopian Immigrants in Metropolitan Washington”, and “Defining Immigrant Newcomers in New Destinations”.

To start off with, The Latinization of the Central Shenandoah Valley was an interesting article to read. It discusses the Latinization of Harrisonburg, VA a small town with around 40,000 people. Initially, I was confused as to why Immigrants would pick a small town in rural Virginia out of all potential places to live. However, after the article mentions the social networks, it helped me to better understand why. Social networks help Immigrants choose places to live. Social networks can be job opportunities, family, or any other social network or tie they have with a specific area which is a helpful way in choosing where immigrants move too. Harrisonburg specifically, had job opportunities/recruitment in the area which were enough motivation for immigrants to move there and take those jobs in order to start new lives in that area. Despite these jobs being low paying, Immigrants were taking them and moving there causing a significant uptick in the Latin American Population within the area. It seemed they had no other choice in job simply because no matter how educated they were, the immigrants were seen as unfit or unable to do those higher jobs. Overall, this article helped me to better understand the Latinization of Harrisonburg.

Next up is the Identity and Assimilation among Ethiopian Immigrants in Metropolitan Washington. This article discusses Ethiopians and issues with their cultural identity. Ethiopian immigrants, or Ethiopians in general are identified as African American here. However, the article goes into a study of first- and second-generation children from Ethiopia living in Washington DC. It was interesting to read that they didn’t identify as African Americans. This was news to me personally. It seems that the west identifies anybody with dark skin as Black rather than what they identify as. There was a part in the reading that discussed the “one-drop rule” which says anybody with an ounce of African Blood is Black. It must be frustrating to not be seen as who you really are and simply generalized to one specific group. Ethiopians are big with their culture and their traditional ways. They prefer the term African over the term Black. They feel that they are not seen as who they are which makes perfect sense. The article shows that 70% of Ethiopians immigrants are aware of the race and phenotype. A quote that came after this explains it perfectly. “During the first couple of years, I considered myself only Ethiopian. Then I started thinking of myself as African. As time passed, I interacted with more blacks and other Americans. This country made me aware of my race. I was blacker than I thought I was.” Younger Ethiopians now are doing their best to be seen as a true Ethiopian and nobody else despite the challenges that come with it.

The last article was Defining Immigrant Newcomers in New Destinations. This article specifically discusses Immigration in the Colonial Williamsburg area. What I learned his was similar to what I learned in the article about the Latinization of Harrisonburg. It seemed that the social network was the number of jobs in the area in which immigrants are taking advantage of in order to start a new life in that area. Issues were brought up, however. Americans believe that these immigrants are stealing jobs from them. Locals in the area complained about the rise of immigrants from many different countries in the area. Even the newspaper in the area would tackle the topics of immigration which locals would read, which would cause issues because they think that the jobs are all being taken. Despite these issues, Immigrants move to this area and start new lives. It was overall interesting to read about how Williamsburg went from a rural town to a small city and immigration had played a large role in its uprising.

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