Belonging to Puerto Rico and America: New York Puerto Rican by Abigal Stahl McNamee

By Abigal Stahl McNamee

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Because of the physical obviousness of skin color as a racial difference it might be expected that children's awareness of this characteristic would develop at an earlier age. Studies undertaken in Northern Ireland and Israel attempt to determine age of onset of cultural group awareness when differences between groups are less noticeable. Studies of Israeli children’s conceptualization of Arabs, probably the most significant other group for these children, indicates that children, by 30 months of age, have some kind of knowledge of Arabs, they can refer to an Arab and evaluate him/her indicating that the concept “an Arab” is acquired early on, “one of the first social concepts about social groups that a child in Israel learns.

The outcomes of adaptation may depend on how well these children fit into their own ethnic community and how their ethnic community fits into the larger American society. Family ties can function as an important source of support and control, but family ties may deteriorate with longer duration of US residence. Even strong cultural identities and social ties may sometimes be insufficient because of racial or class disadvantages (p. 82). Ruggieri (May, 2002) writes “While this country is still a land of opportunity and a symbol of hope for millions of immigrants, the reality is that there are tremendous hurdles and hardships for individuals seeking a new life in los Estados Unidas (p.

Whichever terminology is preferred by a researcher, the focus of cultural group or ethnic group study has generally been on how identity develops, rather than on conceptualization of the group of which one is a member. I was interested in how children 18 Abigail Stahl McNamee conceptualize three components of their own cultural group: self-identification (the label used for one's own group), attitudes (feelings about one's own and other groups), and behaviors (behavior patterns specific to one’s own and other groups).

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