In this election year, 2004, people are grappling with the various forces that make up these United States. What forces encourage inclusion and which exclusion? Who is to be included and who excluded? Is this to be a country with wide discrepancies between the rich and the poor? Is this to be a country where public education is poorly funded and a good education depends upon private resources? Are we going to forget that discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ethnic origin, and economic status still exists and needs to be perpetually, vigilantly addressed? There is a deep division in the country over the proper and fair use of our resources that constitutes concern in all our citizens
In its larger contexts the topic of this issue of Ethnic Studies Review , “Fair Access,” has many referents. In 2004 we are marking the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v Board of Education which stated unequivocally that separate but equal systems of education did not and could not exist, and yet equal education for all our children still does not exist. Recent reports detail that in many urban areas school systems are at least as segregated as prior to the Brown decision, and all levels of government seem satisfied with that status quo. We watch with astonishment as over six hundred people are being detained by the United States Government without charges against them or access to lawyers at Guantanamo. We witness at the moment of Haiti's celebration of its 200th anniversary of independence not only the mysterious removal of the democratically elected President of Haiti but also the continual refusal to grant refugee status to fleeing Haitians while it is granted to Cubans almost automatically, thus creating great inequities in immigrant access. We decry the Patriots Act passed by the Congress of the United States at the instigation of the Bush Administration that whittles away at the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution. We know that many do not have access to health care in the United States. These and other issues of fair access must be our daily concern.
This issue of the Journal of the National Association of Ethnic Studies presents an interesting cross section of ethnic groups in the United States: Native American, Vietnamese, Latino, African American. Several of the articles involving these groups raise the persistent question of assimilation versus acculturation and where the health and welfare of the children of immigrants or the younger generation of immigrants lies. Shaw N. Gynan in “Hispanic Immigration and Spanish Maintenance as Indirect Measures of Ethnicity: Reality and Perceptions” has found that the newest generation of Latinos not only are more involved ethnically with their Spanish heritage than earlier immigrants but also are more proficient in English, information that might cause the promoters of English as the official language of the United States to rethink their position. In “An Examination of Social Adaptation Processes of Vietnamese Adolescents” Fayneese Miller, My Do, and Jason Sperber show that this age group finds its strength in a strong attachment to their ethnic community and proficiency in speaking and writing English: the first keeps them grounded and the second two allow them the confidence to progress in their new society. In “Community Versus Assimilation: A Study IN American Assimilation at Saint Joseph's Indian Industrial School” Sarah Shillinger shows through oral history the effects of being removed from one's ethnic community as Indian children were in the board school movement of the early twentieth century.