Failing in the suburbs

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.

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  1. Is this really a new problem? I knew several upper middle class black kids in the 70s and 80s who imitated thugs and insisted they were not upper middle class. The comic strips Boonedocks, and Kudzu addressed this. There was a film about the son of a gubernatorial candidate who wanted to be a rapper. According to some movies organized crime started in the immigrant communities. Look at the Somalis kids from Minnesota who went back to be holy warriors.

    To many adolescents being a bad guy has always looked like more fun than conforming in a capitalist society.

  2. read Life at the Bottom by Theodore Dalrynple

  3. These attitudes and values need to be discouraged, even punished.

    Also, if Jesselyn’s parents are illegal immigrants they need to be deported along with their children.  Let the kids see first-hand what a nation which despises education comes to, and maybe they’ll try to build Mexico up instead of tearing the USA down.