New York City has been both at the forefront of America’s great diversity and at the forefront of America’s historical nativism. Explain.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

New York City has been at the forefront of American diversity for a long time because of the fact that it is the most important city in the US both economically and culturally.  It has been at the forefront of nativism because it has been at the forefront of diversity.

People from other countries tend to come to the United States in search of economic opportunity.  The greatest economic opportunity, particularly in times past, existed in cities.  As America’s leading economic powerhouse, New York was a city full of factories and other workplaces where immigrants could find jobs.  For this reason, immigrants came to New York City in large numbers.  Because New York is and was America’s foremost city, internal migrants moved there as well. African Americans came up from the South in the Great Migration.  People of all races from all parts of the country move there because they are attracted to its glamor and its opportunities.  All of this has helped to make New York the center of America’s great diversity.

Because New York has been the center of so much diversity, it has also been a center of nativism.  This is not strange.  It would be surprising if nativism were to arise only in places with very few immigrants.  Instead, it makes sense that at least some of the people most strongly affected by immigration and diversity would take part in a backlash against it.  Since the “native American” people of New York City have been so strongly affected by immigration over the years, they have often been part of the reaction to (and against) immigrants and diversity.