Postville

What Happened to Our Melting Pot?

Cultural Assimilation and Acculturation

A very important theme in Postville is assimilation.The natives want the newcomers to adopt their culture and become part of the 'American Melting Pot'. However, the Orthodox Jews do not want to assimilate, be dominated by the culture of the Postville residents, nor acculturate, make ends meet and give and take a little of the culture, as they want to retain their old culture, referring to the term "folk culture". The Mexicans, though, do acculturate, attending mass at the Catholic church alongside the white residents and taking part in the parades. The majority of the natives, however, still did not mesh with the immigrants completely.

Cultural Barriers

One the largest problems those of Postville faced was the fact that they were all very different. For example, the natives and the Jewish had very different morals. The Jews were very strict, did not eat the same food, did not follow the same religion, attend the same festivities, and overall had traditions and cultural traits that were very uncommon to Postville. When the Mexicans came, the barrier was disparate than the barrier between the Jews and the native residents. The Mexicans attended the local events, restaurants, and church services and were very similar to the natives other than skin color and first language, even though some of them spoke perfect English despite the fact that the native Postville residents may not believe so.

Authenticity

The natives of Postville did not believe that the Jewish people were 'authentic American' ( even though most of them had immigrated from New York) mostly because they did not share the same values and the Jewish followed their religion very strictly. The natives believed that you should lost your culture to become like them, and that in order to have authenticity, they had to 'act American' and 'participate in the Great American Melting Pot'.

Cultural Traits and Cultural Relativism

A cultural trait in the culture of the Postville natives is the greased-pig contest. This contest is where the locals gather to watch people try to wrestle with a greased pig, plainly. Sounds fun, yeah? Not according to the Hasidic Jews at least. The Hasidic Jews, by religion and belief, try to stay away from pigs, because they are a " filthy animal ".


This brings us to the point of cultural relativism. In one culture, dirty swine are a way to bring people together and bond with those who share similarities with you, but in the other culture, dirty swine are frowned upon and if one was to eat a pig, they would be shamed.

Cultural Appropriation

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The young Mexican girl adopts the English language, part of a culture that is not hers. She adopts part of another culture through cultural appropriation. Learning and adopting the English language can be in her advantage and benefit her by giving her a wider range of opportunity, especially in America where English is the first language. Also, it could help her development in America with being able to apply and work different job opportunities due to her bilingual status, study in school more efficiently, and have a higher ranking in social status.