For the most part Russian immigrants and their descendants have succeeded in assimilating into mainstream American life. There are a few groups that have avoided acculturation and maintained the traditional lifestyle they brought from the homeland. Such traditionalists include the Orthodox Christian Old Believers and the non-Orthodox Molokan Christian sect. Whether these people live in large cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Erie, Pennsylvania; in rural towns like Woodburn, Oregon; or in the backwoods of Alaska, they have continued to use the Russian language at home and sometimes succeeded in having it taught in public schools.
The distinct dress and religious-based lifestyle of these groups keep them at a social distance from other Americans and distinguish them from the rest of the community. A large number of White Russians, especially those of aristocratic background from the immediate post-World War I era, also found it difficult to adapt to an American society that lacked respect for the deference that Russian nobles, princes, princesses, and intellectuals otherwise had come to expect.
The Old Believers, Molokans, and White Russian aristocrats are only a small minority of the Russian American community today. But even among the vast majority who sought to assimilate, the goal was not always easy to accomplish. American society during the past 70 years has had a negative opinion of the Soviet Union and, therefore, of Russian Americans. Russian Americans have frequently been suspected of being potential communist spies or socialists and anarchists intent on infiltrating and disrupting America's labor movement.
Even before the Soviet Union existed, immigrant workers from Russia, particularly Jews, played a leading role in organizations like the American branch of the International Workers' Organization. Leon Trotsky and Nikolai Bukharin, two of Lenin's closest associates, lived in New York City for a time where they edited a Russian-language socialist newspaper. And just before the American branch of the Red Cross was about to assist thousands of White Russians in finding refuge in the United States, authorities in places like New York led raids against the headquarters of the Union of Russian Workers and the Russian-dominated American Communist party.
As a result, several thousand aliens were deported, nearly 90 percent of whom were returned to what by then had become Bolshevik-controlled Russia. It is a little known fact that as late as the 1970s some of these returnees and their descendants still maintained an identity as Americans even after living in the Soviet Union nearly half a century.
After World War II the United States was once again struck by a Red Scare, this time even more widely publicized as a result of the congressional investigations led during the 1950s by the demagogic Senator Joseph McCarthy. Again Russians and all things Russian were associated with Communism, so Russian Americans were forced to maintain a low profile, and some felt obligated to renounce their heritage.
Most recently, Russians in the United States have been linked to organized crime. With the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, and the radical change in that country's economy, a number of speculators have tried to take advantage of the situation. Many of these new Russian businessmen have contacts or are themselves residents in Russian American communities like Brighton Beach where they carry out illegal transactions. It is common to find references in today's mainstream American media to the dangers of the Russian mafia and, by implication, of all Russians.
RUSSIAN AMERICAN IMMIGRATION WAVE
RUSSIAN AMERICAN SETTLEMENT
RUSSIAN AMERICAN FAMILY & COMMUNITY DYNAMICS
source everyculture.com, 2007