While some immigrant students are doing fine, others are choosing to join the “rainbow underclass,” writes Jason DeParle in the New York Times. He looks at Hispanic teens in working-class suburbs, where “failing means fitting in.”
The problems of young people like Jesselyn are sometimes called failures of assimilation. But they can also be seen as assimilation to the wrong things: crime, drugs and self-fulfilling prophecies of racial defeat.
As Jesselyn tells it, she assimilated to the surrounding values of gangsta rap. Writing in her eighth-grade yearbook, she celebrated friends as “my nigga!” and labeled enemies “crackers,” “bamma” and “whyte.”
“If you’re Hispanic, people already expect you to steal, to fight, to be rude, to be ghetto,” Jesselyn said.
Jesselyn’s parents, immigrants from Mexico, have been unable to pass their work ethic on to their daughter.
If you’re feeling overly euphoric, read the whole thing.