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An immigrant society's flaw and the asset is its heterogeneity. The cultures that came to America came from various parts of the continent, with different cultural traditions and activities, so for better or worse, they had to learn how to coexist. Via the social contract formed by the interaction between various cultures, America was able to realize economic, social, and cultural development (Nash 189). (Nash 189). However, in the United States, the question of ethnicity and ethnic heritage has produced an uneasy life. People from various social and cultural backgrounds can live, work, and play together, but forming a romantic relationship is frowned upon. According to Gary Nash, relationships between people of mixed race have a long history in America. This can be related to the issue of fighting for acceptance in a society that has been preoccupied with racial purity. Professor Nash's forbidden love relates to a previous book that I had reviewed that offered provided an overview of a world that most Americans knows little about (Nash 78). In the case of Nash, he covers a wide range of issues starting with Pocohantas and going as far as to cover the multiracial heritage of the current American president. Apart from identifying the lives of most successful mixed-race Americans, he shows the trend of race and racial identity that have been there in the country since its formation.
According to Nash writing, there have been several indications of about how an earlier history of Americans indicated great promise for an interracial society where racial background would have the least relevance that it would be in the centuries to come. However, due to the nature of the settlers in North America, of which was identified a difference with the exploitation that was taking place in central and South America, different societies that had migrated in America considered survival in racial purity as being paramount to their existence.
Racial purity obsession prevailed in the first half of the 20th century. This period indicated how European immigrants would relate with Africans once that were slaves and later as free American citizens (Nash 34). It also determined the relationship that European settlers and Native American Indians how were the original inhibitors of this content. Finally, how the need for social purity influenced the manner with which new immigrant from Europe, Asia, and Latin Americans would migrate into America.
The subject that Nash chose to cover included many ethnic groups and various periods in American history. In his writing, he stated with Pocohanta's marriage to John Rolfe a Virginia planter, the Healy family, Paul Cuffe, the entrepreneur how dealt with marine activities, Hulme, Elizabeth and Peggy Rusk. In each situation presented to every individual, their lives are compared with start and end of the critical racial consciousness and rigidity in this country that led to the election of a multiracial president.
Using the 18th-century Mexican paintings referred to as cast painting, Nash provides a clear illustration of racial mixtures and hierarchy in Spanish Americans. The painting provides a nomenclature of a person's union with different racial makeup, that is, a native woman and a Spaniard make a mestizo and a native woman and a black woman make a mulatto. However, this interracial interaction did not mean racial equality (Nash 201). The lack of Spanish female genders, large population of black and native person, combined with the Puritans that had a more permissive view of interracial marriage meant that there would be more and free interaction between people of different cultural and racial practices. However, according to Nash perspective, “the offspring of mixed-racial marriages could expect a life discrimination and thwarted ambition. And those with African ancestry faced more limited chances that with Indian bloodiness. Above all, Spanish bold counted the most (Nash 48)", the interracial mixing did not mean an end to racism.
In a society like that one provided in America, research and biographies like that of Forbidden Love are very crucial since it provides an inner perspective in the issue affecting such societies and ways through which they can be addressed. In many countries, interracial intermingling has been the norm for many centuries, but in America, interracial interaction and acceptance have been faced with many challenges, and it is halting at its best.
The Book Forbidden Love was reviewed from its original 1999 version to make it more suitable and add a modern perspective for classroom use. Although the book presents major issues worth of vast academic research, its vocabulary, tone, and length make it easily accessible to students at high school level. More important is the discussion questions that are presented at the end of every chapter. Those questions offer an opportunity for students to provide critical reviews of issues present in the book hence providing a broader knowledge about the trend in interracial interaction in the earlier and present American society (Nash 154). Due to the book cohesiveness, efficient and enhanced translation of the issue addressed in the book I would highly recommend it as a useful resource for high school students in the present American society.
Nash, Gary B. Forbidden love: The secret history of mixed-race America. H. Holt, 1999.
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