African American communityHistory and Background
The African American community is rooted in a mixture of various ethnic backgrounds from Western and Central Africa. The more than 11 different tribes were subsequently amalgamated together by their common suffering during slavery.

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The first African Americans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia. They worked for a few years as indentured servants and afterwards freed. Over time, they built their own businesses and became competition, so states resorted to enslave blacks. Blacks even fought alongside the rebel forces in the Revolutionary War, yet the institution of slavery became entrenched in the South, while the North went on to abolish the practice. Slavery was ended with the victory of the Union during the Civil War; afterwards, Jim Crow laws institutionalized the separation of races and could only be stopped by the Civil Rights Act in 1965.

The most notable events for the African American community was the Civil War, which ended slavery, and the Civil Rights Act, which ended Jim Crow laws.

Culture and Traditions
A lot of Black Culture is rooted in West and Central Africa – since this is the origin of most African Americans. When Blacks were brought over into the United States, they came from many different tribes and nations. The common fate of suffering, however amalgamated the heterogeneous mix of cultures together in a process called Creolization.

Many blacks believed in spirits; traditions were mostly kept alive by storytelling during slavery. This is how Black slaves kept their cultural identity intact. Later on, the cultural identity was expressed in music during the Harlem Renaissance which brought about Jazz, Rhythm’n’Blues and Rock’n’Roll, while Detroit developed the Motown style in the 1970s.

Health concerns
Several diseases are especially prevalent among African Americans: Cardiovascular disease with a greater risk for coronary disease/stroke; diabetes; and Vitamin D deficiency. The latter gets synthesized by sunlight, however, the melanin pigmentation absorbs most of the sunlight, leaving less for Vitamin D production.

Asian American
History and Background
The phrase “Asian American” was invented in the 1960s to lump Chinese, Japanese and Filipino Americans together (Spickard, 2007). Later on, Koreans, Vietnamese, Hmong and South Asian Americans were added. Many Asians were brought over as unskilled workers to help with the railroad from 1850 – 1905. Later on, they were often regarded with hostility by other Americans. These hostilities flared up again during World War II, leading to their imprisonment in Internment Camps (see below). Tensions subsided, and after 1965, a lot of Asians immigrated into the United States.

The most notable event was probably the Second World War; Japanese were sent into Internment Camps and had to witness not only their country being defeated, but obliterated by the use of the Atomic Bomb.

Culture and traditions
Asian Americans display a highly tribal identity – there are ‘Chinatowns’ in many cities across the United States. The way the Asian American communities developed, they often started out as Bachelor Societies. Young men, mostly from China, were recruited as workers, while Congress prevented women to join these groups.
1906, the San Francisco Earthquake destroyed many birth and immigration records, so savvy Asians declared themselves US citizens with kids that still lived in China. As for religions – there are no clear preferences among Asian Americans.

Health concerns
Cancer is a big concern for Asian Americans, especially liver and stomach cancer; cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Hepatitis B are further predominant causes of diseases, followed by Osteoporosis.

Hispanic and Latino Americans
History and background

Hispanics have been settling in US territory since the 16th century, earlier than any other colonial group of European origin. “La Florida” was discovered by Juan Ponce de Léon and soon becoming populated and colonized with other Spanish people. They explored the United States within three decades of de Léon’s landing, up until the territory of the later state Oregon.

In St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565, the Spanish created the first permanent European settlement, and Spain fought with General George Washington in the Revolutionary War. Spain held territories up until 1783, after which the United States used treaties, purchase, diplomacy and the Mexican-American war to get California, Texas and Florida.

Immigration into the United States has markedly increased after 1965. Now, more than 17% of the US population – 53 Mio – are Hispanic.

The Notable Event for the Spanish is probably the Spanish-American war.

Culture and Traditions
The Spanish language often serves as a way to pass down family heritage and culture. Most Spanish are catholic, some are protestant, all of them are Christian. Latin-American cuisine has a high cultural impact. Corn-based dishes like Tacos or Tortillas are some of the main staples of American society.

Latinos display strong family values; there are a substantial amount of Spanish language media outlets. Latinos are well represented in Baseball and Soccer. They also have a strong influence of pop culture.

Health issues
Hispanics face higher risks than others for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.

Muslim and Islamic Americans
History and background

Not much is known about Muslim immigration into the United States. Several hundred Muslims fought alongside the Union in the American Civil War, presumably because some slaves were of Muslim origin. Serious Muslim immigration into the US started in 1840 and lasted until the First World War. Muslims settled mainly in Dearborn, Michigan; Quincy, Massachusetts; and Ross, North Dakota. 1906 and 1907, the first Muslim societies were founded in the United States, and the first American mosque was built in 1915 in Maine.

The predominantly notable event involving Muslims in American History is probably the 11th of September 2001. Muslim Americans have been marginalized ever since.

Culture and Traditions
Ramadan plays a predominant role in Muslim American communities. Racially, Muslims consist of 64% Blacks, 27% Whites and 6% Hispanics. Muslim Americans are well educated and in general relatively well off. They are physicians, scientists, financial analysts and entrepreneurs.

Medical issues
Systematic studies that analyze the most common health problems among Muslims are not very frequent. Cardiovascular disease, smoking and tobacco use as well as diabetes form major problems for Arab- or Muslim Immigrants

Indian Americans (including their four religions)
History and Background
With the Naturalization Act of 1790, Asians became ineligible for citizenship, which was reserved for Whites only. Nevertheless, in the 1880s, Indian traders arrived in the United States, and the general interest in eastern religion and philosophy in America increased. Still, anti-Indian tension ran high, manifesting themselves, for example, ion the Bellingham Riots in Bellingham, Washington. More Indians, mostly of Punjabi origin, immigrated in the 19th and 20th century. Indian immigration – like so many other population groups – got boosted in 1965

The notifying event must have been when the Supreme Court ruled that Indians, as non-Whites, were ineligible for naturalization.

Culture and Traditions
Most Indian Americans live in major metropolitan area, like in the NYC area. They are outpacing many other ethnic groups in achieving; for example, they are the second largest groups of physicians after White Americans. Thus, they have a strong work ethic.
Religion-wise, Indians belong to one of the following religions: Hinduism, Jainism, Sikh or Buddhism. Some others are Muslims, some are Christians. Hindus form by far the largest groups, with a population number of 2.2 Mio. In 1893, Swami Vivekananda formed the Vedanta Society. There are several specific Hindi radio stations in the US.

Health issues
Prevalent health issues among Indian Americans include cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer. Some groups chew tobacco and Bethel quid, with consequences for dental caries and periodontal diseases as well as oral cancer.

Jewish Americans
History and background
Jewish Americans form the second largest Jewish community in the world, after Israel. They are also one of the most successful subgroups in America, with the largest per capita income. The first Jews were Sephardic and immigrated in the mid of the 17th century from Spain and Portugal. Towards the mid of the19th century, many Ashkenazy Jews arrived from Germany due to anti-Semitism. In the early 1880s, there was a new wave of Jewish immigrants, this time from Eastern Europe.

Immigration stopped with the 1924 Immigration Act and the National Origins Quota and only picked back up during World War II, where the United States gave refuge to many Jewish refugees from Germany. In the 1920s, Jews formed the garment trade in New York

There were two defining moments in Jewish history: the Holocaust during World War II and the Six-Day War against Israel in 1967.

Culture and tradition
The US American Jewish community is predominantly (90%) of Ashkenazy origin; the rest is Mizrahi and Sephardic as well as some converts from Christianity. The American Jewish community embraces the full range of religious practices and cultural traditions. At the beginning of the 20th century, Jewish immigrants formed “Landsmannschaften” to build support networks. Jewish continue to be very active in Civil Rights movements, e.g. Labor rights or Feminism.

Medical issues
Jewish people have specific healthcare needs. They have an increased risk of mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, increasing the rate of breast and ovarian cancer. Aging survivors of the Holocaust have mental problem as they reminisce the events of their youth, which might have included Death Camps.

Somalian Americans
Background and History
The first Somalians to arrive in the US were sailors in the 1920s. Later on, during the 1960s and 1970s, mostly students moved into the United States. When Civil War broke out in Somalia in the 1990s, a lot of people went to the US to immigrate. Most of them settled in Minnesota and formed many local communities that are in close contact with each others and form support networks

The most notable – and traumatizing – event in Somali history is the Civil War; that war is the reason that many Somali immigrated into the United States in the first place.

Cultural background
Somali Americans form a close-knit community, often defined by their flight from war-torn Somalia. They are mostly small business owners and regularly send monetary remittances home to Somalia.

Several Somali Americans are involved in the Somalian liberation movement and are in the process of moving back home as the country is slowly stabilizing. Support for Al-Shabaab and ISIS has been there, but is declining as of late.

Medical Issues
Predominant health issues are malnutrition, iron deficiency anemia, Vitamin A deficiency and scurvy. Depression is an issue for those who lost loved ones in the Somali Civil War.

Native Americans
History and background
Prior to the arrival of European settlers, native American Indians formed numerous distinct tribes, bands and ethnic groups. After the Revolutionary War, George Washington and others set out to assimilate natives. There were numerous clashes when settlers expanded Westward. President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830 which allowed the relocation of natives to suit the settlers’ expansion. In 1851, the Indian Appropriations Act established Reservations where Indians were allowed to stay.

Whites committed numerous atrocities against Native Indians, the most egregious being the Trail of Tears. This was basically a death march that relocated Indians west from the Mississippi. Indians were also victimized by exposure to a lot of diseases they were not immunized against, for example, Smallpox. As settlers further expanded towards the Western United States, they got into conflict with the Indians from the Great Plains and Great Basin, giving rise to the Indian Wars. Ultimately, these wars would be decided against the Natives.

Andrew Jackson’s signing of the Indian Removal Act was a decisive event in Native American History. Now, settlers had the legal means and the backing of the government to remove Natives from their lands at will, without a second thought.

Cultural background
Several tribes were matrilineal and quite communal, sharing many resources – this way of life clashed with the patriarchal way of the European settlers, for whom property rights played an important role. In the Western United States, Indians were nomadic and embraced seasonal bison hunting and horseback riding. Contemporary native Americans can be members of different nations, tribes or bands with specific sovereignty issues and treaty rights.

Medical issues
Many of the medical problems the native American community faces are from poor infrastructure in reservations, loss of cultural identity and lack of access to quality health and mental care (Gordon, 2013). Alcoholism is rampant, diabetes as well – since the food quality is not the best in those reservations. Many natives die from injuries they inflict through alcoholism, poor medical support and a general recklessness from the uprooting of Indian culture. Sexual abuse and suicide is a big problem, and Tuberculosis has been a pervasive problem.

  • Gordon, C. (2013) 5 big Native American health issues you don’t know about. Web. Retrieved from
  • Spickard, P. (2007) “Whither the Asian American Coalition?” Pacific Historical Review, Nov 2007, Vol. 76 Issue 4, pp 585-604