Both Dwight Okita’s poem, ‘In Response to Executive Order 9066: All Americans of Japanese Decent Must Relocation Centers’ and Sandra Cisneros’ short story ‘Mericans’ explore the dissonance being an American born citizen of immigrant decent. The common theme of these two stories is a battle between ethnic culture and immersed culture. Both children of the stories have immigrant parents who come from a country with different customs than America and for that reason experience some negative consequences.
Dwight Okita’s poem, ‘In Response to Executive Order 9066: All Americans of Japanese Decent Must Relocation Centers’. The central character of the poem is implied to be a female of a young age who appears to not quite understand the difference between her ethnic culture and the American culture. As a result of this, she experiences a change in how people view her when World War 2 is occurring and America is pitted against Japan. In the poem, it appears to be that she identifies with her American side of her upbringing more and is confused when her classmate all of a sudden ostracizes her just because she is ethnically Japanese. In her eyes, there is nothing different between her and her white friend.
Sandra Cisneros’ short story ‘Mericans’ takes a look at the cultural difference between the elder generation of immigrants who have spent most of their life outside of America and the youth whose only experience of their ethnic culture is that of what their relatives have raised them on. The children in this short story do not understand the cultural significance of their ethnic culture to the point where they begin to demonize it seeing it as something not good. The kids see themselves as Americans and their grandma as something else which is what causes the large divide between them.
Both children of the stories growing up in American culture but have a different background. They both identify more with their American roots and not with their ethnic ones. Unlike in Okita’s poem the children in ‘Mericans’ actively dislike their ethnic culture but do not necessarily outwardly experience negativity due to it in the story besides what they express. In Okita’s poem, on the other hand, the little girl is discriminated against just due to her culture.
In conclusion, both pieces of literature express the troubles of being an immigrant child. Through Okita’s poem, we see the real-life discrimination of others based on racial profiles and unjust behavior. In ‘Mericans’, we see the internal struggle of kids who are caught between two cultural identities. Both stories show facets of what it means to be a bicultural individual.
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