Armenian Americans: The Threatening Statistic
Cover photo: pilibos.org
In the United States, Armenians began to appear at the beginning of the 16th century and together with the rest of the settlers (Germans, Irish, Poles) built and developed new colonies there. Subsequently, the Armenians moved to the US during the activation of the Catholic missionary in the Ottoman Empire, but the largest wave of migration occurred after the Genocide in the early 20th century. Then thousands of refugees, saving their lives, crossed the ocean and settled in a country with completely different culture and foundations. The descendants of these Armenians constitute the community of the so-called indigenous Armenians of the United States - representatives of the classical Diaspora.
Armenians liked the American culture, which encompasses all the diversity of ethnic and racial groups living in the USA, thus containing Christian values close to the Armenian people. We can say that the Armenians quickly adopted the system of American values and became active citizens of the country, proving themselves in various fields, ranging from the sphere of services to big politics.
It is known that being in a foreign environment, or in an environment which is completely the opposite of the native one, ethnic, religious (and other) groups preserve their identity better. However, in the favorable environment, such as the American, Armenians faced the problem of assimilation.
Since the second half of the twentieth century, mixed marriages among Armenians are considered more a rule than an exception. Using the statistics of the Armenian churches in the USA, one can follow the number of inter-ethnic weddings and conclude that their number is growing rapidly. If earlier there were about 20%, today the number reaches 80%.
However, it should be mentioned that inter-ethnic marriages are not the only reason of assimilation, but only one of its components. The wide network of Armenian schools, churches, scientific, cultural and sports centers operating in the US does not change the sad statistics, but just slows it down: the Armenian culture and language are surrendering their positions in favor of the dominant American culture.
Assimilation processes are especially evident among representatives of the classical Diaspora of Armenians living in the United States by generations. Among them, Armenians who know the Armenian language are less and less likely to meet. The situation is such that even in rare Armenian schools, children find it difficult to speak Armenian.
The problem of the gradual loss of the identity of Armenian Americans can be noticed simply by looking at the list of activists of the most influential Armenian organization of the United States - the Armenian National Committee of America. Only the old generation can be seen among the Native Armenian Americans in the list of members of the organization, and majority of the young representatives come from Armenia and the communities of the Middle East. The question arises: "Where are the indigenous Armenians of the organization?” Taking into account the facts, mentioned above, the answer to that question will be very sad.
It is noteworthy that the majority of the population of the most Armenian-populated city of the USA, Los Angeles, are Armenians from Armenia and the Soviet Union who arrived there at the end of the 20th century. This also confirms the fact of the gradual disappearance of native Armenian Americans.
It is difficult to say whether it is possible to save the younger generation left from the native Armenian Americans. Assimilation cannot be stopped, especially in an environment that is close to the nation religiously and culturally. The maximum that can be done is to suspend its pace. The rest depends solely on Armenia: whether the state will be able to take real steps towards global repatriation and change the image of Armenia and the Armenian people so that people with Armenian roots have a desire to identify themselves with this country and society or at least to become interested in learning about their origins.