Except for Native Americans, no one is from America. It is estimated that at least 170 ethnic groups live in the United States. The capacity of this country to absorb so many different people and at the same time, forge binding ties among them is an incredible feat.
Throughout America’s history, waves of immigrants have changed this nation. Until the second half of this century, most immigrants arrived from Europe. In the 1980 more than half of all immigrants were Asians. Many others from the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, and India along with Mexico are the chief sources of immigration. China, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba follow close behind.
The flow of people from those countries continues to change America gradually. For example, African Americans are currently the largest minority group, making up 12 percent of the total population. Hispanic are the second largest racial minority. They make up seven percent of the population. However, Hispanics are expected to become the largest ethnic minority in the United States.
Most people came to America because of economic hardship, religious persecution and political oppression. Over the last 50 years, people of European ancestry have blended almost completely into the melting pot. About 80 percent of all Polish, Italian, and Irish-American now marry someone outside their ethnic group. This is also true for 50 percent of Jews and Greek-Americans . Thirty percent of Asian-Americans and Hispanic are marrying outside their ethnic groups. Blacks have the smallest percentage, 1-2 percent, marrying outside their ethnic group. In 1991, however, the Census Bureau estimated almost 230,000 interracial marriages between blacks and whites.
Putting religion with ethnicity is common in the United States. Religious freedom in this country is one of the major reasons so many ethnic groups can live together peacefully. This represents a victory for the American experiment.
Because of the amount of immigrants in this nation, the United States has a diversity that has changed the concept of what it means to be an American. This diversity makes us more interesting and viable than any one group by itself.
In 1792, when the motto “ E. Pluribus Unum,” was adopted, it referred to the union forged from 13 separate colonies. Subsequently, it has come to suggest the ties that bind the remarkable array of diverse people who have settled here. Even though many different American nationalities exist, that does not mean all Americans are exactly alike or must become uniform to be real Americans. It simply means that a genuine national community does exist and that it has its own distinctive principle of unity, its own history, and its own appropriate sense of belonging. However, since that time we have developed a common culture in America. This culture allows us to respect all nationalities as real Americans. If America is to be free, this must be so.