Immigrant vs. Involuntary Minorities (Ogbu)
Explanation of Main Features

According to Ogbu (as cited in Diaz-Rico & Weed, 2010) there are two types of minorities, immigrant and nonimmigrant. The immigrant minorities, also referred to as voluntary, are the groups that have emigrated from a different country. Their home country serves as a frame of reference by which they compare their “new” life. Having the ability to compare one to the other allows them to, in many cases, appreciate and take advantage of what the new group or culture has to offer. On the other hand, nonimmigrant or nonvoluntary groups have not immigrated but rather are victims of societal exploitation, such as slavery against African Americans. (Garcia, 2002).
In the case of nonimmigrant minorities, there is no other frame of reference or “home” to return to. These nonimmigrant minorities have (historically) been mistreated and only have the dominant culture to compare themselves by. Due to their negative experiences with the dominant group, nonvoluntary groups have continued a norm of low expectations for themselves, which cycles through generations of families. These groups typically do not believe education is important as they have been relegated to subservient positions. (Garcia, 2002).

Díaz-Rico, L. T. & Weed, K. Z. (2010). The Cross-Cultural, Language, and Academic
Development Handbook,Fourth Edition.Boston, MA: Pearson.
Garcia, E. (2002). Student cultural diversity: Understanding and meeting the challenge. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Classroom Implications

An implication with involuntary minorities is that they tend to have problems in school, perform below grade level, and have higher dropout rates (Garcia, 2002, p. 147). Teachers may need to find ways to recognize the cultures of involuntary immigrants within their classroom and school. The may need help seeing the positives associated with school and with building their motivation and self-esteem.
Ogbu J. & Simon (1998) say that “Teachers should avoid basing expectations about an individual’s school performance and behavior on group membership. In essence, teachers should never judge students based on these assumptions they should merely keep them in mind while teaching.
There are many ways to make voluntary as well as involuntary immigrants feel like an integral part of the classroom and the community. Teachers and educators must strive to include not only the students but their parents/families as well, to school functions. Getting the parents involved and feeling like they are important to the school can often not only change the parents/family’s negative mindsets and feelings toward the school, it can in turn, also change the student’s mindsets as well. Teachers can even plan some kind of a lesson that integrates voluntary/involuntary minority student’s cultures to show them that they are valued and accepted at school.
Ogbu J. & Simon (1998) stress that “teachers need to show students by word and deed that they believe in their students, that their culture is worthy of respect, and that succeeding in school will leave their identity intact. Garcia (2002) poses a list of helpful ideas that help make involuntary immigrants feel valued such as: initiating mentors, acknowledging parental and language and culture, family school communication, promoting family and cultural groups in school, home support for teaching and learning, and accepting the fact that institutions are not the only knowledge broker in society.
Garcia, E. (2002). Student cultural diversity: Understanding and meeting the challenge. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.